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Consumer Reports July 2017

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BEST & WORST SUNSCREENS
REVIEWS &
RATINGS
Refrigerators
Ranges
Countertops
Toilets
Dishwashers
62
Supermarket
Ratings
Special
Report
At the
Wheel
Over 65:
How
seniors
can drive
safer,
longer
on car
insurance
pricing
Car Reviews
Impreza, Cadenza
& Highlander
Smarter choices
for a better world
JULY 2017 CR.ORG
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CRM0717C2
Table of Contents
JULY 2017, VOL. 82 NO. 7
I N E V E RY I S S U E
4 From the President:
When Hidden Algorithms
Lead to Higher Prices
Data-driven pricing can have
far-reaching ramifications.
5 Building a Better
World, Together
Advocating for smart
standards for vehicle-tovehicle communication,
working to reduce furniture
tip-over risks, and fighting
for affordable hearing aids.
6 Your Feedback
Readers’ comments about our
recent content.
P. 30
16 Recalls
66 Index
A year’s worth of products.
30 Faster, Fresher, Cheaper
P RO D U C T U P DAT E S
Supermarkets are changing
to suit a more discriminating
consumer—and online grocers
are coming on strong. Here,
how to save money and still
make healthy choices.
R ATI N G S
8 Don’t Get Burned!
We tested sunscreens to
reveal which work, which
disappoint, and why you
can’t always rely on what
you read on the label.
R ATI N G S
44 The CR Guide to
Smarter Remodeling
P. 18
FE AT U R E S
Want the kitchen and bath
of your dreams—without
breaking the bank? Our
exclusive survey and experts’
advice will help keep you
under budget and overjoyed.
R ATI N G S
18 At the Wheel Over 65:
Driving Safer, Driving Longer
More older drivers are on
the road than ever before.
Thankfully, more solutions
are being found for the
challenges, as well.
INSIGHTS
14 Weird Foods
Worth Trying
COVER PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
ABOUT CONSUMER REPORTS
52 A World Apart
17 Ask Our Experts
Our investigation raises
important questions about
car insurance premium
pricing by neighborhood.
Easier ways to manage
your medication schedule,
when to replace your
air conditioner, and how
to avoid ATM fees.
accept paid advertising. We don’t
accept free test samples from
manufacturers. We do not allow our
name or content to be used for any
promotional purposes.
HOW TO REACH US
Write to us at Consumer Reports,
101 Truman Ave., Yonkers, NY 10703,
Attn.: Customer Service.
Goofs and gaffes.
ROA D R E P O R T
62 Road Tests
Smart rides at any size: We rate
the compact Subaru Impreza,
comfortable Kia Cadenza,
luxurious BMW 530i xDrive,
and roomy Toyota Highlander.
R ATI N G S
Cricket flour? Jackfruit?
Our nutrition experts
analyze six trendy foods.
R ATI N G S
We are the world’s largest
independent, nonprofit, consumerproduct-testing organization,
based in Yonkers, N.Y. We survey
millions of consumers about
their experiences with products
and services. We pay for all
the products we rate. We don’t
67 Selling It
TOYOTA
HIGHLANDER
84
0
OVERALL
SCORE
TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION
Go to CR.org/lettertoeditor.
Go to CR.org/magazine
or call 800-333-0663.
See page 65 for more details.
R ATINGS Overall scores are based on
a scale of 0 to 100. We rate products
using these symbols:
NEWS TIPS AND STORY IDEAS
Go to CR.org/tips.
EMAIL SUBMISSIONS
For Selling It send items to
SellingIt@cro.consumer.org
or call 800-333-0663.
See page 67 for more details.
JULY 2017
1 POOR 2 FAIR 3 GOOD
4 VERY GOOD 5 EXCELLENT
CR.ORG
3
From the President
President and CEO Marta L. Tellado
Senior Vice President, Brand & Strategy Leonora Wiener
Editor in Chief Diane Salvatore
Executive Editor Kevin Doyle
Design Director Matthew Lenning
Associate Design Director Mike Smith
Manager, Art Operations Sheri Geller
Art Directors Tammy Morton Fernandez, Janice Hogan, Ewelina Mrowiec,
Lisa Slater, Tracy Stora, Sarah Viñas
Photo Editors Emilie Harjes, Karen Shinbaum
Vice President, Content Gwendolyn Bounds
Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Kim Miller
Vice President, Publishing & Marketing Operations Brent Diamond
Vice President, Research, Testing & Insights Liam McCormack
Vice President, Chief Digital Officer Jason Fox
Director, Content Development Glenn Derene
Deputy Director, Content Development Christopher Kirkpatrick
Senior Director, Product Testing Mark Connelly
Director, Content Impact & Corporate Outreach Jen Shecter
Director, Special Projects Sandy Keenan
Deputy, Special Projects Joel Keehn
Associate Director, Content Development Scott Billings
WE LIVE in an age when
prices for an ever-growing
list of products and services
are set by plugging personal
information about ourselves
into complex algorithms. For
example, health insurance
costs fluctuate with our age,
and airline tickets can get
pricier based on our browsing
history. Although there is
nothing inherently wrong
with customizing costs based
on factors that are truly
relevant, data-driven pricing
is a rapidly expanding part
of our lives that offers little
transparency—and one that
can often carry hidden biases.
In the past, CR investigations
into the car insurance industry
turned up evidence that
insurers frequently set rates
based on pieces of personal
information that have nothing
to do with driving risk—
including credit scores and
occupations. This month we’re
publishing the results of a
new investigation, conducted
with the nonprofit journalism
organization ProPublica,
that raises even more red flags
about the factors that go
into—and the prices that come
out of—the opaque formulas
that determine our insurance
premiums. For more than
a year our statisticians have
examined reams of data
4
CR.ORG
points across four states.
What we uncovered was
disturbing: We found that
some insurers were charging
higher rates in minority
neighborhoods than in whiter
neighborhoods with similar
average levels of accidentrelated costs. (See our article,
“A World Apart,” on page 52.)
When drivers in minority
neighborhoods are forced
to pay higher premiums,
the ripple effects can be devastating—family budgets drain
more quickly, employment
opportunities are hindered,
and communities are
restrained from growth. As
more and more of the costs
of living become entangled
with algorithms, Consumer
Reports is committed to
dissecting the data and shining
a light on hidden issues that
affect consumers, wherever
they arise—so that we can work
to ensure that our shared
values of fairness and
transparency are what are
shaping the marketplace as it
evolves in the digital age.
Marta L. Tellado,
President and CEO
Follow me on Twitter
@MLTellado
JULY 2017
Cars Patrick Olsen, Content Lead
Editors: Jeff S. Bartlett, Jonathan Linkov, Mike Monticello,
Michelle Naranjo, Jeff Plungis
Auto Test Center: Jake Fisher, Jennifer Stockburger, Directors
Product Testers: Mike Bloch, John Ibbotson, Chris Jones, Anita Lam,
Tom Mutchler, Gene Petersen, Ryan Pszczolkowski, Mike Quincy, Gabe Shenhar,
Shawn Sinclair, Emily A. Thomas, Joe Veselak, Seung Min “Mel” Yu
Electronics Jerry Beilinson, Content Lead
Editors: Tercius Bufete, Bree Fowler, Michael Gikas, Christopher Raymond,
Allen St. John, Terry Sullivan, James Willcox
Product Testers: Maria Rerecich, Testing Lead; Elias Arias, Antonette Asedillo,
Claudio Ciacci, Charles Davidman, Richard Fisco, Richard Sulin, Maurice Wynn
Health & Food Ellen Kunes, Content Lead
Editors: Orly Avitzur, M.D.; Trisha Calvo; Julia Calderone;
Lauren F. Friedman; Chris Hendel; Jeneen Interlandi; Marvin M. Lipman, M.D.;
Catherine Roberts; Diane Umansky
Product Testers: Maxine Siegel, Testing Lead; Amy Keating, Ellen Klosz
Home & Appliance Eric Hagerman, Content Lead
Editors: Mary Farrell, Paul Hope, Kimberly Janeway, Sara Morrow
Product Testers: John Galeotafiore, James Nanni, Testing Leads;
Peter Anzalone, John Banta, Susan Booth, Tara Casaregola, Lawrence Ciufo,
Enrique de Paz, Bernard Deitrick, Cindy Fisher, Emilio Gonzalez,
Ginny Lui, Joan Muratore, Joseph Pacella, Christopher Regan, Frank Spinelli,
David Trezza, Michael Visconti
Money Margot Gilman, Content Lead
Editors: Jeffrey Blyskal, Lauren Lyons Cole, Anthony Giorgianni,
Nikhil Hutheesing, Donna Rosato, Tobie Stanger, Penelope Wang
Chief Scientific Officer James H. Dickerson
Food Safety James Rogers, Director; Henry Akinleye, Charlotte Vallaeys
Health Ratings Doris Peter, Director
Product Safety Doris Sullivan, Associate Director
Best Buy Drugs Lisa Gill, Deputy
Editors: Teresa Carr, Ginger Skinner
Content Systems & Operations Strategy Peter Meirs, Director
Content Operations David Fox, Director; William Breglio; Anthony Terzo
Production Eric W. Norlander, Manager; Letitia Hughes, Terri Kazin
Imaging Francisco Collado, Mark Linder
Content Coordination Nancy Crowfoot; Diane Chesler, Aileen McCluskey
Copy Editing Leslie Monthan, Copy Chief; Noreen Browne,
Alison France, Wendy Greenfield
Fact Checking David Schipper, Manager; Kathleen Adams, Tracy Anderman,
Sarah Goralski, Sharon MacBride Riley
Administration Decarris Bryant, Elizabeth Scotton
Consumer Engagement Testing Charu Ahuja, Director;
Linda Greene, Adam Kaplan
Statistics Michael Saccucci, Director;
Keith Newsom-Stewart, Martin Romm, Andrew Cohen
Survey Research Steven Witten, Director; Karen Jaffe, Simon Slater;
Dave Gopoian, Kendra Johnson, Debra Kalensky, Martin Lachter,
Olufemi Olu-Lafe, Adam Troy
Administration John McCowen
Consumer Insight Monica Liriano, Associate Director; Frank Yang;
Chris Holmes, Rachel Lynch, Teneisha Thomas
Newsstand Marketing Patricia McSorley, Associate Director
Procurement Operations Steven Schiavone, Associate Director
PHOTO: MELANIE DUNEA
When Hidden Algorithms
Lead to Higher Prices
Building a Better World, Together Join with us to make a safer,
healthier marketplace
More Safety
at the Wheel
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V,
technology allows cars to
communicate with each other
wirelessly, an advancement
that has the potential to
boost automotive safety
significantly. It gives them the
ability to broadcast a stream of
information including speed,
location, and braking. The
goal is to help avoid accidents.
(See our April 2017 magazine
feature, “Driving Into the
Future,” also at CR.org/
selfdrivingcars.)
Federal safety regulators
recently proposed that all
new cars be equipped with
V2V capabilities. Our auto
engineers and consumer
advocates have since filed
comments with the National
Highway Traffic Safety
Administration urging the
government to move forward
on a mandatory standard.
But that standard needs to
allow for continued innovation
and enhancement of the
safety system.
CR is also asking for
consumer protections
for the privacy and security of
drivers’ data. You deserve
to know what information your
car is transmitting and who
has access to it. We’ll keep you
posted on our progress.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Go to CR.org/V2Vsafety
to learn more about this
potentially lifesaving
technology.
furniture; the impact
force of a piece of furniture
can be thousands of pounds.
We’ve long encouraged
consumers to check for tipover hazards in their home,
to install anchor devices on
heavy items like bookcases
and dressers, and to never
leave remote controls and
other tempting items in high
places that young kids might
climb to reach.
CR and other groups have
been pushing for action.
Last year Ikea and the CPSC
jointly announced a recall
of several chest and dresser
models that involved 29 million
units. Tip-over incidents
involving these products
resulted in the death of at
least four children.
We’re now pressing to
strengthen the furniture
industry’s voluntary safety
standard for chests, dressers,
and other items, and calling
on manufacturers to take
more meaningful actions
to improve the stability of
their products. But we
haven’t seen the kind of
urgency and industry-wide
accountability that consumers
need. That’s why we plan to
ratchet up our efforts aimed at
companies and policymakers
in the coming months.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you’ve had a tip-over
accident in your home, let us
know at ConsumersUnion.org/
share-your-story. And learn
how to prevent them at
anchorit.gov.
Affordable
Hearing Aids
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Hearing aids can make a
profound difference in
a person’s quality of life. But
according to a 2015 survey
of our subscribers, about
70 percent of adults who need
them put off the purchase
Ending TipOver Dangers
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Three children are injured
every hour by a TV, an
appliance, or furniture
falling on them, according to
estimates from the Consumer
Product Safety Commission.
For years, CR has reported
on the dangers of unanchored
ILLUSTRATION BY JOHN RITTER
Talking Cars
Wireless communication
between cars will
reduce the number and
severity of crashes.
JULY 2017
for two years or longer, most
often because of the high cost.
A group of bipartisan
lawmakers in Congress
recently sponsored the
Over-the-Counter Hearing
Aid Act. It’s aimed at making
easy-to-use, prescriptionquality hearing aids available
to adults with mild to moderate
hearing loss. These devices
would be available for purchase
without a medical exam,
giving consumers more costeffective options.
Only hearing-aid look-alike
devices are available without
a prescription. Referred to as
“sound amplifiers,” they’re
not regulated, might not
provide much benefit, and
could possibly cause additional
hearing damage. The Food
and Drug Administration
doesn’t even allow the products
to be marketed for improving
impaired hearing.
The legislation is sponsored
by Senators Elizabeth Warren
(D-Mass.), Chuck Grassley
(R-Iowa), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.),
and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
A companion bill has been
introduced in the House by
Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.),
and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
“If you can buy nonprescription reading glasses
over the counter, you should be
able to buy basic, safe hearing
aids, too,” Grassley says.
Hearing aids aren’t covered
by Medicare or most private
insurance plans, and out-ofpocket costs for a single device
average $2,700.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
CR supports this legislation,
and our consumer advocates
are urging members of
Congress to join the bipartisan
group that backs it. Reach
out to your lawmakers at senate.
gov and house.gov to urge them
to support the bill.
As for the current
marketplace, see our article
“No More Suffering in
Silence?” in the March 2017
issue of the magazine, or
go to CR.org/hearingaid to
find out what you should know
before buying a hearing device.
CR.ORG
5
Your Feedback Readers’ comments about our content,
in email & social media
The High Cost of For-Profit Air Ambulances
The average air-ambulance bill exceeds $30,000, most of
which is often not covered by insurance. Our May article
“Taking Patients for a Ride” reported on the financial impact
these surprise bills have on patients, as well as the questionable
use of emergency air transport and the lack of industry
oversight. Join the conversation at CR.org/airambulances0717.
I’VE WORKED in the EMS field
for many years, both at the state
level and as a local provider.
Your article on the for-profit
air-ambulance industry brings
out the uglier side of some
emergency air transports. When
I’ve had to make the difficult
decision to call a helicopter
to transport a patient, I’ve
also thought of the financial
liability that their family will
face. There are EMS providers
who make the decision way
too easily. There need to be
better and more stringent
regulations placed on air
WRITE
Go to CR.org/
lettertoeditor to share
your comments for
publication.
medical providers at the state
level. There will always be a
need for air ambulances. The
question remains how they can
be regulated and still pay their
bills at the end of the day.
—Keith Smith, via CR.org
I HAVE HAD DECADES working
in and around this industry.
I’ve known helicopter
companies that market to first
responders with free rides,
coffee mugs, BBQ dinners,
and “free education” with the
constant message: “Call us.”
Providers and dispatchers
often do call them before
anyone has even assessed
the patient. I look forward to
seeing this practice shut down
on a national level.
—Herb Brady, via CR.org
I AM A FORMER paramedic
who has been involved in
6
CR.ORG
EMS for more than 30 years.
Air ambulances do not
decide which patients are
transported. That decision is
made by physicians at local
hospitals and by EMS first
responders making good faith
decisions during an emergency
situation. You only told one
side of the story. And when it
comes to “surprise medical
bills,” you fail to point the
finger in the proper direction.
Why did Blue Cross only pay
$5,700 of Ms. Stout’s $24,000
bill? In most states, insurance
companies are required to
pay a fair market rate for
emergency services, whether
they are in network or not.
Why did you not encourage
Ms. Stout and others caught in
her situation to file a complaint
with their state insurance
commission, then find an
attorney to sue the insurance
JULY 2017
company—not the people who
were acting in good faith to
save their lives.
—Bill Bryant, president, Sierra
Health Group, Golden, CO
EDITOR’S NOTE The letter
writer works for a firm that
provides consulting services
to air-ambulance companies.
Our article did advise people in
this situation to file a complaint
with their state insurance
commissioner. Though current
federal law prevents states
from regulating air-ambulance
pricing, state insurance
commissioners support proposed
federal legislation to give
states more power to protect
consumers from excessive airambulance bills. The Stout family
filed several appeals with their
insurer and hired a lawyer. They
are pursuing a class action.
Heart Health
CONSUMER REPORTS HAS always
been about empowering
consumers to take charge of
their lives and improve their
well-being (“Take Charge
of Your Heart Health,” May
2017). Nowhere is this mission
more important than when it
comes to empowering people
to take charge of their health.
No other single issue can do
more to help people and, as a
byproduct, help to reduce our
national healthcare bill. Thank
you, CR. I don’t know what I’d
do without you!
—Ken Derow, Swarthmore, PA
I WAS SURPRISED that your
article did not have a comment
about taking aspirin to
prevent heart disease. There
are millions of people in the
country who take aspirin
for that purpose. You never
mention whether aspirin is
useful, a waste of time, or not
worth the risk of GI bleeds.
—Lewis Greenwald, Efland, NC
EDITOR’S NOTE There’s no
one-size-fits-all answer because
the decision involves balancing
your risk of having a heart
attack against your risk of
developing bleeding in your
intestinal tract. “In general,
people who’ve had a heart
attack should take a low-dose
aspirin since they are at much
higher risk of having a repeat
attack,” says Marvin M. Lipman,
M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief
medical adviser. And the U.S.
Preventive Services Task Force
says that people in their 50s who
have a 10 percent or greater
risk of having a heart attack
or stroke in the next 10 years
should take a low-dose aspirin.
FOLLOW US
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consumer-reports
The evidence is less clear for
people in their 60s, and it’s
even more uncertain for those
70 and older, mainly because
the risk of gastrointestinal
bleeding increases substantially
as you grow older. Always talk
with your doctor before taking
aspirin to protect your heart.
YOUR REVIEW of hospitals is
interesting, but unless you
know who each hospital
worked on and how bad their
problems were, then you are
committing a logical fallacy
called Simpson’s paradox,
caused by missing variables.
Hospitals rated good may
only have had easy patients.
Hospitals rated bad may have
specialized in tough cases
the others would not try to
help. So while your data is a
nice indicator, it is far from
conclusive. Consumers should
look deeper at all the pertinent
facts before jumping to choose
a hospital based on such data
as CR provided.
—William Adams, Ph.D.,
Roanoke, VA
EDITOR’S NOTE Consumer
Reports and our data partner,
the Society of Thoracic Surgeons,
agree that the concerns raised
by the letter writer can be
important. For that reason, the
data are adjusted to account for
the patient case mix—including
factors such as the health of the
patients when they enter the
hospital. In addition, Simpson’s
paradox is unlikely to apply to
our ratings, for two reasons.
One, research shows that it is
more common for procedures
with higher death rates than
in the operations included in
our heart ratings. And our
ratings focus on procedures
for which there is less variation
in the proportion of very
high or very low risk patients
among hospitals. Though
no approach is perfect, the
methods have been endorsed
by the National Quality Forum,
which means they have passed
the most stringent national
requirements for healthcare
performance measures.
Mowers
powered
by human
energy
not only
provide
exercise but
also don’t
pollute the
planet.
Mighty Mowers
YOUR STORY on electric lawn
mowers naively asks, “Why
wouldn’t you go electric?”
How about the fact that the
lithium-ion batteries that
power them have caused fires
and explosions in hoverboards,
laptop computers, tablets,
e-cigarettes, etc.?
—Richard Siegelman,
Plainview, NY
EDITOR’S NOTE After reports of
exploding lithium-ion batteries,
it’s reasonable to be concerned.
But our engineers say there’s one
important difference: A number
of the batteries used in products
such as some hoverboards were
never subjected to third-party
testing from labs like UL, and
therefore weren’t guaranteed
to conform to safety standards.
Lawn mowers generally come
from established companies that
subject their products to this
kind of testing.
IN THE MAY 2017 ISSUE, there
is an article on lawn mowers
as well as a report about heart
health. Given the latter, I
was disappointed to see that
the article on lawn mowers
excluded any consideration
of the type of mower that
provides valuable exercise,
thus offering an opportunity
JULY 2017
to improve one’s “heart
health” (lungs, too—possibly
legs as well). Similarly, you
neglected to mention a mower
that decreases the threats to
health by eliminating exposure
to both exhaust fumes and
noise pollution. The only
mower that provides exercise
while not polluting is the
push reel mower, powered by
human energy.
—Susan Hogg, Newport, OR
EDITOR’S NOTE Kudos to those
who do manual labor! We have
tested reel mowers in the past
and offer general information in
our online mower Buying Guide,
which you can find at CR.org/
mowers0717. Our engineers
caution that reel mowers
are best for small, flat lawns
(⅛ of an acre or smaller). Reel
mowers also require you to mow
frequently so that your grass
never gets too tall.
IT IS NOT CLEAR if the 10-year
cost comparison between gas
and electric mowers in your
story includes the cost of
replacing the battery. Can the
original battery be expected to
last 10 years?
—Aurelia Hidalgo, via CR.org
EDITOR’S NOTE This cost
comparison doesn’t include the
cost of a replacement battery or
any repairs you might have to
make for a gas mower because
both are unpredictable. In our
latest reliability survey, 16 to
35 percent of self-propelled
gas mowers are estimated
to experience a breakage by
the fourth year of ownership,
depending on the brand. For
gas push mowers that range is
14 to 25 percent, but it’s only
4 to 17 percent for batterypowered electric mowers. So,
in general, electric mowers are
more reliable than gas models.
But whether you can expect
the battery to last 10 years is a
question we haven’t tested. The
longest battery warranty we
are aware of is five years, and
industry experts claim that you
might be able to get up to twice
that time.
CR.ORG
7
Product
Updates
The latest ratings from our labs
Don’t Get
Burned!
Which sunscreens
work, which fall
short—and why you
can’t always rely
on packaging labels.
by Trisha Calvo
TIME IT RIGHT
Every
2 hours
HOW OFTEN YOU
SHOULD REAPPLY
SUNSCREEN
Every
3.36 hours*
HOW OFTEN
PEOPLE USUALLY
WAIT TO REAPPLY IT
LA ROCHEPOSAY
ANTHELIOS
MELT-IN
SUNSCREEN
MILK SPF 60
$36
100
0
OVERALL
SCORE
TRADER JOE’S
SPRAY SPF 50+
$6
100
0
OVERALL
SCORE
EQUATE SPORT
LOTION SPF 50
$5
99
0
OVERALL
SCORE
PURE SUN
DEFENSE DISNEY
FROZEN
LOTION SPF 50
$6
98
0
OVERALL
SCORE
BANANA BOAT
SUNCOMFORT
CLEAR
ULTRAMIST
SPRAY SPF 50+
$10
97
0
OVERALL
SCORE
*Of people who reapply sunscreen, according
8
CR.ORG
to a Consumer Reports National
Research Center survey of 661 sunscreen users.
IF YOU THINK all sunscreens
touting high SPFs—like those with
50s on their labels, for example—are
equally effective, here’s a surprise:
Consumer Reports has found that those
SPF numbers aren’t always a reliable
measure of how much protection you’ll
get. If you put too much faith in them,
you could be putting your skin at risk.
SPF, which stands for sun protection
factor, is a measure of how well a
sunscreen guards against ultraviolet B
(UVB) rays, the chief cause of sunburn
and a contributor to cancer. For the fifth
year in a row, CR’s testing has shown that
some sunscreens fail to provide the level
of protection promised on the package.
Of the 58 lotions, sprays, and sticks in
our ratings this year, 20 tested at less
than half their labeled SPF number.
And CR isn’t the only independent
consumer organization that has found
this discrepancy. Other members of
International Consumer Research and
Testing (a global group of consumer
organizations) in Australia, New
Zealand, and the U.K. have also found
differences between the labeled SPF
and the tested SPF in sunscreens on
the market in those countries.
The ABCs of SPF
Sunscreens are classified as over-thecounter drugs. The Food and Drug
Administration requires manufacturers
to have their products tested to
determine the SPF. But the agency
doesn’t routinely test sunscreens itself.
Manufacturers don’t have to report
their results, although they do have to
submit them to the FDA if the agency
requests them.
At a public meeting last June, an
FDA official said the agency had the
resources for only about 30 employees
to cover more than 100,000 over-thecounter drugs. That limits what it can
do to oversee sunscreens.
“Most of the time, a sunscreen’s
effectiveness has been verified only by
the manufacturer and any testing lab
it might decide to use—and not by the
government,” says William Wallace,
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAN SAELINGER
Think Twice
About ‘Naturals’
Our tests found subpar
performance by sunscreens
with only titanium
dioxide or zinc oxide as
the active ingredient.
IN PAST YEARS, we’ve had
disappointing results when
testing “natural” sunscreens
(also called mineral sunscreens),
those with only titanium dioxide
or zinc oxide (or both) as UV
filters. We haven’t been able
to find a mineral product that
delivers the whole package:
top-notch UVA and UVB
protection as well as minimal
variation from SPF. This year
we added more mineral
sunscreens to our tests and
included products with higher
concentrations of the active
ingredients than we did before.
According to the Personal
Care Products Council, there’s
no performance difference
between chemical and
mineral active ingredients.
But CR’s testing has found
that sunscreens with chemical
active ingredients tend to
protect skin better. Of the
13 mineral sunscreens in our
tests, just one received an
Excellent rating for variation
from SPF. Eleven received Fair
or Poor scores for UVB (SPF)
protection. Five had Excellent
scores for UVA protection, but
none of these rated higher than
Fair for UVB protection.
The “natural” sunscreen
that ranked highest in our
ratings was California Kids
#Supersensitive Lotion SPF 30+.
It has an overall Good rating,
a Very Good score for UVB
protection, and an Excellent
variation from SPF rating.
But it rated only Fair for
UVA protection. If you want
to use a natural sunscreen,
consider this one.
JULY 2017
an analyst for Consumers Union,
the policy and mobilization arm of
Consumer Reports.
Manufacturers test sunscreens
for SPF before their products hit
the market, but unless they are
reformulated, that may be the only
testing they do. That’s one reason CR
tests sunscreens.
We use the FDA’s sunscreen testing
protocol as a model, but as with all
products, we do our own scientific,
laboratory-based testing to identify
differences in performance and give
consumers a comparative evaluation.
Every sunscreen is tested at a lab in
the same way. “We buy sunscreens off
the shelf, the way consumers would,”
says Susan Booth, the project leader for
our sunscreen testing. “We use three
samples, preferably with different lot
numbers, of each product.”
With some sunscreens, even
though our tested SPF varied from
the labeled SPF, the product still
provides acceptable UVB protection.
For example, Coppertone Ultra Guard
Lotion SPF 70 received a Very Good
score for variation from SPF in our
tests. That means it tested within 70 to
84 percent of the labeled SPF, coming
in at an SPF over 49 in this case. That
got the product an Excellent rating for
UVB protection and a recommended
designation. (See pages 11 and 12 for
more on our testing and ratings.)
But with other products, missing
the mark could mean that you’re not
adequately shielding your skin. An SPF
50, say, that tests at less than half its
labeled SPF delivers an SPF 24 at the
most, and sometimes far less. (The
American Academy of Dermatology
recommends using a product with an
SPF of 30 or more.)
For example, in our tests,
Coppertone Sport High Performance
Spray SPF 30 earned a Poor rating
for variation from its SPF because the
tested SPF was less than half the value
listed on the label. We also rated it Fair
for UVB protection because the tested
SPF was between 10 and 19.
CR.ORG
9
1 2 3 4 5
Product Updates
POOR
But other Coppertone sunscreens
received high scores for variation from
SPF and for UVB protection, which
illustrates why you can’t always choose
by brand.
Beth Jonas, Ph.D., chief scientist at
the Personal Care Products Council,
a trade association that represents
the sunscreen industry, said that
it disagreed with our findings. She
noted that our test methods aren’t
the same as required by the product
manufacturers to assign the SPF
designation, and can’t be directly
compared with a label claim.
Why UVA and UVB Matter
A sunscreen’s SPF is only one gauge
of the protection it provides. Equally
important is broad-spectrum coverage,
or how a product shields your skin from
UVA rays as well as UVB. With their
longer wavelength, UVA rays reach the
middle layer of the skin (the dermis),
damaging cells and triggering changes
that can lead to skin cancer, broken
blood vessels, sagging, and wrinkling.
Most of the sun’s radiation is in the
SUNSCREEN FOR DARKER SKIN
People of color have some
natural protection against UV
rays. How much depends on
the amount of the pigment
melanin in their skin. But they
are still susceptible to sunburn
and skin cancer, so experts
stress that sunscreen is a
must, for every skin tone.
form of UVA. Unlike UVB rays, which
are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
UVA rays are present throughout the
daylight hours, even on cloudy days.
There’s no labeling system in the
U.S. that indicates a sunscreen’s level
of UVA protection. And the test
the FDA requires manufacturers to
do if they want to label their sunscreen
broad-spectrum (called the critical
wavelength test) is pass/fail. All
of the sunscreens in our tests would
have received a passing grade on
that test, but some sunscreens do
a better job than others.
The test that CR does is similar to
4 Steps to
Sunscreen
Success
Even the highestperforming product
won’t shield
your skin if you
don’t use it
properly. Follow
these easy tips.
in the sun, you could
accumulate skin
damage in those first
15 minutes, especially if
you are fair skinned.
1. SHAKE IT.
The directions may
not tell you to do
this, but it’s a good
idea because it helps
distribute the active
ingredients throughout
the sunscreen.
2. TIME IT.
Apply 15 to 30 minutes
before going outside
to give the sunscreen
time to start working.
If you wait until you’re
10
CR.ORG
EXCELLENT
3. APPLY ENOUGH,
CORRECTLY.
Most consumers use
less than half the
amount of sunscreen
they should. When
you apply half the
sunscreen, you
get half the SPF
protection, so an SPF
50 automatically
becomes an SPF 25. If
you happened to use
a product that doesn’t
JULY 2017
$
!
CR BEST BUY RECOMMENDED
one used in Europe and allows us to
measure the degree of UVA protection.
Two-thirds of the products in our
ratings earned at least a Very Good
UVA score.
When you wear sunscreen, you
should feel confident that you’re welldefended against UVA and UVB rays,
and that you’re actually getting the
level of protection promised on the
label. That’s where our ratings come
in. This year, we have 15 recommended
sunscreens that received Excellent
overall ratings and 20 others that didn’t
make our recommended list but were
still rated Very Good overall.
If you can’t find one of these
products, we suggest using a sunscreen
labeled with an SPF of at least 40 that
contains chemical active ingredients
such as avobenzone rather than
“natural” or mineral active ingredients
such as zinc oxide. (See “Think Twice
About ‘Naturals,’ ” on page 9.) In our
last five years of testing, we’ve found
that this offers the best chance of
getting a sunscreen that delivers at
least an SPF 30.
deliver the SPF on the
label, and you don’t
apply it correctly, you
could end up getting
very little protection.
For example, an
incorrectly applied SPF
30 sunscreen that tested
at an SPF 15 could wind
up providing you with
an SPF of 7 or 8 because
you applied too little
of the stuff. Experts
often recommend
applying a shot-glassful
of sunscreen to cover
your body when you’re
in a bathing suit. If that
image isn’t helpful, think
about a teaspoon-sized
blob per body part (and
1 teaspoon to cover
your face, ears, and
neck). And rub it in—
even sprays.
4. REPEAT.
For sunscreen to be
effective, it has to be
reapplied every
2 hours you’re in the sun
and immediately after
you come out of the
water, no matter how
little time has passed
and even if a product
is water-resistant. If
you’re using sunscreen
properly, a family of
four spending 4 hours
at the beach should
go through an 8-ounce
bottle of sunscreen.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY THOMAS POROSTOCKY
Ratings We’ve Got You Covered All sunscreens were labeled at least SPF 30 and, unless otherwise noted, had
claims of water resistance for 80 minutes. Recommended products scored 81 or higher overall
and received Excellent or Very Good scores for UVA and UVB protection and variation from SPF.
Overall
Score
Cost per Package Price per
UVA
UVB (SPF) Variation
Oz. ($) Size (Oz.) Package Protection Protection From SPF
Rank
Recommended
Brand & Product
LOTIONS
!
0
1
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk
100
$7.20
5
$36.00
5
0
5
0
5
0
$
0
2
Equate (Walmart) Sport Lotion SPF 50
99
$0.63
8
$5.00
5
0
5
0
5
0
$
0
3
Pure Sun Defense Disney Frozen Lotion SPF 50 ⁄€
98
$0.75
8
$6.00
5
0
5
0
5
0
!
0
4
Coppertone WaterBabies Lotion SPF 50
95
$1.50
8
$12.00
5
0
5
0
5
0
!
0
5
Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70
94
$1.50
8
$12.00
5
0
5
0
4
0
$
0
6
Equate (Walmart) Ultra Protection Lotion SPF 50 ⁄
93
$0.50
16
$8.00
5
0
5
0
5
0
$
0
7
Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish SPF 30
87
$1.00
8
$8.00
5
0
4
0
5
0
!
0
8
Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion SPF 30
84
$2.67
3
$8.00
5
0
4
0
5
0
!
0
9
Up & Up (Target) Sheer Dry-Touch Lotion SPF 30
83
$1.67
3
$5.00
5
0
4
0
5
0
10
Coppertone ClearlySheer Lotion SPF 50
80
$1.40
5
$7.00
5
0
4
0
4
0
11
Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Lotion SPF 30
78
$1.90
5
$9.50
5
0
3
0
5
0
12
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Lotion SPF 45
78
$3.17
3
$9.50
5
0
4
0
3
0
13
Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance Lotion
SPF 50
72
$1.31
8
$10.50
5
0
3
0
2
0
14
Well at Walgreens Baby Lotion SPF 50
69
$1.00
3
$3.00
3
0
5
0
5
0
15
Coppertone Sport High Performance Lotion SPF 50
68
$1.71
7
$12.00
4
0
4
0
4
0
16
Banana Boat SunComfort Lotion SPF 30
61
$1.75
6
$10.50
5
0
3
0
4
0
17
Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance
Lotion SPF 30
59
$1.50
8
$12.00
5
0
3
0
4
0
18
Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Water-Light Lotion
SPF 30
58
$5.80
5
$29.00
5
0
3
0
3
0
19
California Kids #supersensitive Lotion SPF 30+ ‹
47
$6.90
2.9
$20.00
2
0
4
0
5
0
20
No-Ad Sport Lotion 50
46
$0.56
16
$9.00
5
0
2
0
1
0
21
Badger Active Unscented Lotion SPF 30 ‹›
46
$5.52
2.9
$16.00
5
0
2
0
2
0
22
Sun Bum Original Lotion SPF 30 ⁄
36
$2.00
8
$16.00
5
0
2
0
1
0
23
Trader Joe’s Refresh Face & Body Lotion SPF 30
34
$1.00
6
$6.00
4
0
2
0
1
0
24
Vanicream Lotion SPF 50+ ‹
30
$4.50
4
$18.00
3
0
2
0
1
0
25
Badger Sport Cream SPF 35 ‹
30
$4.83
2.9
$14.00
5
0
1
0
1
0
26
Sunology Natural Body Lotion SPF 50 ‹
29
$7.50
2
$15.00
2
0
2
0
1
0
27
The Honest Company Mineral Lotion SPF 50+ ‹
26
$4.67
3
$14.00
5
0
1
0
1
0
28
Tom’s of Maine Baby Lotion SPF 30 ‹
22
$5.67
3
$17.00
5
0
1
0
1
0
⁄Manufacturer is reformulating the product later this year, but the one tested was still available at press time. €Other Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 products (which sport other cartoon characters) should
have similar performance. ‹Contains only the mineral active ingredients titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or both. ›Water resistance is 40 minutes.
JULY 2017
CR.ORG
11
Ratings We’ve Got You Covered
Overall
Score
Cost per Package Price per
UVA
UVB (SPF) Variation
Oz. ($) Size (Oz.) Package Protection Protection From SPF
Rank
Recommended
Brand & Product
LOTIONS (Continued)
29
Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ ‹
22
$4.00
6
$24.00
5
0
1
0
1
0
30
Kiss My Face Baby's First Kiss Lotion SPF 50 ‹
22
$4.00
4
$16.00
2
0
3
0
1
0
31
True Natural Active Lotion SPF 30 ‹›
18
$6.88
4
$27.50
4
0
1
0
1
0
32
MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense Lotion
SPF 50 ‹
18
$9.75
4
$39.00
3
0
1
0
1
0
33
CeraVe Body Lotion SPF 50 ‹›
17
$5.67
3
$17.00
2
0
1
0
1
0
34
All Terrain AquaSport Lotion SPF 30 ‹
17
$5.67
3
$17.00
4
0
1
0
1
0
35
Babyganics Mineral-Based Lotion SPF 50+
16
$1.25
8
$10.00
2
0
1
0
1
0
SPRAYS
$
0
1
Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+
100
$1.00
6
$6.00
5
0
5
0
5
0
!
0
2
Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Spray
SPF 50+
97
$1.67
6
$10.00
5
0
5
0
5
0
$
0
3
Equate (Walmart) Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30
84
$0.75
12
$9.00
5
0
4
0
5
0
4
Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection
Spray SPF 70
83
$1.92
6.5
$12.50
4
0
5
0
5
0
5
Panama Jack Continuous Spray SPF 30
80
$2.00
6
$12.00
5
0
3
0
5
0
6
Caribbean Breeze Continuous Tropical Mist
SPF 70
79
$2.75
6
$16.50
3
0
5
0
5
0
7
BullFrog Water Sport InstaCool Spray SPF 50
77
$2.08
6
$12.50
5
0
4
0
3
0
8
No-Ad Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30
76
$0.90
10
$9.00
5
0
3
0
5
0
!
0
Why Spray
Sunscreens
May Be
a Bust
If you don’t use
them with great
care, you may be
shortchanging your
sun protection.
12
CR.ORG
1. It’s tough to tell
whether you’re really
covered. Judging
the amount of spray
sunscreen you’re
using can be difficult.
“Spray until the skin
glistens, then rub the
sunscreen in,” says
Joshua Zeichner, M.D.,
director of cosmetic
and clinical research
in the dermatology
department at Mount
Sinai Hospital in New
York City.
“You have to hold the
nozzle close to your
skin, and don’t spray
the product into the
wind. You often see
parents running behind
kids on the beach,
spraying. That’s not an
effective way to apply
sunscreen,” he says.
2. You might inhale
them. This can cause
lung irritation, so
Consumer Reports
recommends not using
spray sunscreens on
children. If you choose
JULY 2017
to use them, we suggest
you spray the sunscreen
into your hands and
rub it into your child’s
skin. And no one, adults
included, should spray
any sunscreen directly
into the face; spray it
into your hands and
rub in. Also, sprays
could contain titanium
dioxide and zinc oxide,
which may contain tiny
nanoparticles.
(We didn’t test sprays
with those ingredients.)
Breathing in titanium
dioxide is a possible
cancer risk, according
to the World Health
Organization.
3. You’ll probably
spend more. Because
some of the product
may escape into
the air, it’s smart to
spray yourself twice.
So you’re likely to
go through a spray
sunscreen faster than
you would a lotion.
1 2 3 4 5
POOR
$
Rank
Recommended
!
RECOMMENDED
Cost per Package Price per
UVA
UVB (SPF) Variation
Oz. ($) Size (Oz.) Package Protection Protection From SPF
Overall
Score
Brand & Product
EXCELLENT
CR BEST BUY SPRAYS (Continued)
9
Up & Up (Target) Sport Spray SPF 30
76
$0.83
12
$10.00
5
0
3
0
5
0
10
Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Ultra Light Spray SPF 30
74
$1.33
6
$8.00
5
0
3
0
5
0
11
Australian Gold Continuous Clear Spray SPF 30
69
$1.75
6
$10.50
5
0
3
0
4
0
12
Neutrogena Wet Skin Spray SPF 30
69
$2.40
5
$12.00
5
0
3
0
4
0
13
Banana Boat Sport Performance Clear UltraMist
PowerStay Technology Spray SPF 100
66
$1.67
6
$10.00
4
0
4
0
1
0
14
Banana Boat Sport Performance CoolZone Spray
SPF 30
63
$1.50
6
$9.00
4
0
3
0
5
0
15
Banana Boat Sport Performance Clear UltraMist
Powerstay Technology Spray SPF 50+
62
$1.50
6
$9.00
5
0
3
0
1
0
16
Coola Sport Unscented Spray SPF 50
41
$4.50
8
$36.00
3
0
3
0
2
0
17
Coppertone Sport High Performance Spray SPF 30
40
$1.83
6
$11.00
5
0
2
0
1
0
18
Supergoop! Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist SPF 50
40
$3.17
6
$19.00
3
0
3
0
1
0
19
EltaMD UV Aero Continuous Spray SPF 45
17
$5.17
6
$31.00
1
0
3
0
1
0
STICKS
!
0
1
Up & Up (Target) Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55
85
$5.83
1.2
$7.00
4
0
5
0
5
0
!
0
2
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55
84
$9.17
0.6
$5.50
4
0
5
0
5
0
3
Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection
Stick SPF 50+
76
$7.00
1.5
$10.50
4
0
5
0
4
0
4
Banana Boat Ultra Defense Sunscreen Stick SPF 50
68
$10.00
0.55
$5.50
4
0
4
0
4
0
HOW WE TEST
UVA VS. SPF (UVB)
SCORES IN CONTEXT
To check for UVB protection, a
standard amount of each sunscreen
is applied to small areas of our
panelists’ backs. Then they soak in
a tub of water. Afterward, each area
is exposed to six intensities of UVB light
from a sun simulator for a set time.
About a day later, a trained technician
examines the areas for redness. The
resulting UVB protection ratings reflect
each product’s actual effectiveness
after water immersion and are based
on an average of our results for each
sunscreen. To test for UVA protection,
we smear sunscreen on plastic
plates, pass UV light through, and
measure the amount of UVA and
UVB rays that are absorbed. That
information is then used to calculate
our UVA score.
The sun protection factor (SPF) is a
relative measure of how long a
product will protect you from UVB
rays, the chief cause of sunburn.
Assuming you use it correctly, if
you’d burn after 10 minutes in the
sun, an SPF 30 protects for about 5
hours. But the intensity of UVB rays
varies throughout the day and by
location, and all sunscreens must be
reapplied every 2 hours you’re in
the sun. A product’s SPF tells you
nothing about the sunscreen’s ability
to protect against UVA rays, which is
why you need one that’s labeled
broad-spectrum. This means the
sunscreen is designed to defend
against UVA and UVB rays. But
no sunscreen blocks 100 percent
of UV rays.
UVA Protection
All of the products performed
well enough in our tests that they
would have passed a critical
wavelength test, which is required
for a sunscreen to be labeled broadspectrum. That is a pass/fail test.
We use a UVA test that allows us
to determine the degree of UVA
protection a sunscreen provides,
ranging from Excellent to Poor.
Variation From SPF
This rating is a measure of how
closely a sunscreen’s tested SPF
matched the SPF on the label.
5 Tested 85% or above labeled SPF.
4 Tested 70%-84% labeled SPF.
3 Tested 60%-69% labeled SPF.
2 Tested 50%-59% labeled SPF.
1 Tested 49% or below labeled SPF.
UVB (SPF) Protection
This rating is based on the SPF
range found in our tests.
5 Tested UVB/SPF ≥40
4 Tested UVB/SPF 30-39
3 Tested UVB/SPF 20-29
2 Tested UVB/SPF 10-19
1 Tested UVB/SPF 0-9
JULY 2017
CR.ORG
13
Sugar
Trans Fats
Whole Grains
Fiber
Protein
Notable news and smart solutions
High Fructose
Corn Syrup
Insights
WHAT BUYERS LOOK FOR
IN HEALTHY FOODS
50%
47%
45%
57%
61%
63%
AVOID
WANT
Source: Lightspeed GMI/Mintel.
Weird Foods
Worth Trying
These strange-sounding
edibles are popping up
all over. Do they have health
benefits—or are they just
the latest attempt to get you
to open up your wallet?
Our nutrition experts take
a close look.
14
Jumping Jack!
Jackfruit, when
served unripe,
has the texture of
pulled pork.
PHOTOS, FROM LEFT: SPORRER/SKOWRONEK/STOCKFOOD; KRÖGER & GROSS/STOCKFOOD; GETTY IMAGES; GETTY IMAGES
Birch Water
YOU’VE PROBABLY seen bottles
of coconut water, the mildly
sweet liquid inside coconuts.
But what about birch, cactus,
or cucumber water?
Birch water is the sap of a
birch tree. Some products
mix in flavorings like nettle or
rosehip (shown above) with the
sap; others add water and fruit
juices. Cactus and cucumber
varieties are just flavored water.
These products, sometimes
promoted as natural hydrators
that are rich in antioxidants,
electrolytes, and nutrients, may
also carry promises to reduce
inflammation and detoxify.
How weird is it? A little. Plant
and tree waters are fairly new
to the U.S. market. Cucumber
water is just water with fl avors
added, and there’s nothing
new about that.
How healthy is it? Plant
waters are usually lower
in calories than typical
sports drinks, having 25
to 30 calories in 8 ounces
compared with 56 for
Gatorade. Many have no
sweeteners or only the sugars
naturally present in the plant,
but some have small amounts
of added sugars. Still, Consumer
Reports nutritionists advise
sticking with the most authentic
beverage of all: water.
“Few people exercise so
vigorously that they need
to replenish electrolytes,”
says Amy Keating, R.D., a CR
dietitian. “And these specialty
waters can be pricey.” We paid
almost $3 for 10 ounces of
birch water and $2.50 for
12 ounces of cucumber-lime
water. Cactus water sells
for slightly more than $3 for
16.9 ounces on Amazon.
As for the claimed nutrition
benefits of other plant waters,
if you want to add more
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAN SAELINGER
nutrients and antioxidants
to your diet, CR recommends
eating vegetables or fruit
instead of sipping juice. You’ll
get the additional benefit of
fiber, which aids digestion.
How does it taste? When
testing plant waters in the past,
we have found that the flavor
of the plant came through,
but just slightly. Many plant
waters are flavored with other
ingredients like fruit or herbs,
which can change the taste.
Jackfruit
LOVE THE HEALTH benefits of
a plant-based diet but still crave
old favorites like succulent
pulled-pork sandwiches? Your
new favorite meat substitute
may come in a surprising
package: young, green jackfruit.
Before it’s ripe, this Southeast
Asian fruit has a texture that’s
similar to shredded meat. It’s
been marketed as everything
from the next great vegan
meat alternative to a sustainable
support for farming economies.
How weird is it? Pretty weird.
The bumpy green fruit, which
can grow up to 100 pounds, is
an everyday food in subtropical
regions such as India and
Indonesia, where it’s eaten
unripe in savory dishes like
curries or ripe as a fresh fruit.
But in North America, it’s still
pretty unusual.
You’ll find jackfruit in some
Asian and natural-food markets.
The whole large fresh fruit and
often smaller, plastic-wrapped
sections will be near other
tropical fruits in the produce
section. Packaged jackfruit may
be in the meat-substitute area
(near the tofu) or in the canned
fruit and vegetable sections.
How healthy is it? Unlike
other meat substitutes such as
seitan or tofu, jackfruit isn’t
high in protein, supplying just
2 grams per half-cup. “Most
people get more than enough
protein in their diets, but if
you don’t eat any animal
products, jackfruit won’t help
you meet your protein needs,”
says Maxine Siegel, R.D.,
who heads CR’s food-testing lab.
Packaged products of
jackfruit that have added
flavorings often include sugars
and sodium. Still, swapping
jackfruit for the pulled pork
in your favorite dish will save
you at least 100 calories
and 4.5 grams of fat (of which
about half is saturated fat)
per 3-ounce serving.
How does it taste? Plain young
green jackfruit has a starchy
texture and a fairly mild flavor.
The spices in one of the
flavored frozen dishes we
tested tended to overwhelm the
fruit itself. “Texture is a big
factor here,” says Claudia Gallo,
a chef and food tester at CR.
“The pieces and chunks broke
apart into shreds reminiscent
of very soft pulled meat.
The vegans on our panel were
satisfied, but meat eaters didn’t
think it could hold a candle to
real meat.”
working. Whole Foods listed
purple produce as one of
their top food trends for 2017.
How weird is it? Not that
much. These varieties of
asparagus, carrots, cauliflower,
grains, potatoes, and more
have been brightening up
market shelves for several years.
How healthy is it? “Purple
vegetables get their color from
anthocyanins, a naturally
occurring antioxidant that
has been linked to a lower risk
of heart disease and some
cancers,” Siegel says. But check
labels on packaged foods
carefully. “Cereal, chips, or
other packaged products may
have just as many calories,
sugars, and sodium as the less
colorful options,” she says.
How does it taste?
Purple asparagus tastes like,
well, asparagus. “There isn’t a
discernible difference between
the taste of purple produce and
the standard-colored varieties,”
Keating says.
Cricket Flour
Purple Asparagus
PURPLE ASPARAGUS—and other
purple veggies and grains—have
gotten a lot of press and shelf
space in recent years. But these
varieties aren’t new. Until the
17th century, when the Dutch
introduced orange pigment
to carrots in celebration of
the Dutch royal family, many
carrots were purple. And
contemporary records show
that purple potatoes were hot
sellers in 18th-century Parisian
markets.
Now produce purveyors
and marketers are encouraging
American shoppers to discover
again the power of purple,
and the campaign seems to be
JULY 2017
IN THE U.S., finding bug body
parts in your meal is usually
cause for spitting out your food
in disgust, and maybe even
filing a lawsuit. But there
may be good reasons to actually
want bug bits in your food.
Cricket flour, which is being
used to make snack bars,
brownie mixes, chips, and other
foods, is seen as an environmentally efficient way of getting
more protein in your diet.
But the cricket products
showing up on store shelves in
the U.S. don’t contain insects
that were rounded up in the
wild. These critters were raised
on domestic cricket farms, then
dried or roasted and milled
into a fine flour.
How weird is it? That depends
on your perspective. “Crickets
and other insects are an
excellent and common source
CR.ORG
15
Insights
Veggie Burgers
burger comes “raw,” like real
meat. One product is actually
sold in patties in the meat
department, right next to the
ground beef.
How healthy is it? CR’s
nutrition team tested two new
“meaty” veggie burgers.
The Beyond Burger, available
at select Whole Foods stores
around the U.S., is similar
calorie-wise to a same-size
burger made from 80 percent
lean ground beef, but it has
less protein and a third less
saturated fat. The Impossible
Burger, on the menu at a
few restaurants in New York,
Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and
the San Francisco Bay Area,
has about the same number of
calories and amount of protein
as a similar-size 80 percent
lean beef burger but is higher
in saturated fats. “The sodium
content for both is on the high
side,” Keating says.
How does it taste? Our testers
tried both burgers at companyhosted events introducing the
new products. Both came
closer to real beef in flavor and
texture than any other veggie
burger we’ve tasted at
Consumer Reports, though
neither one quite measured up
to ground beef in flavor. Still,
“on a bun with toppings like
lettuce, tomato, cheese, a
Thousand Island-style sauce,
and pickles—which is the way
I was served the Impossible
Burger—you might be hardpressed to say these weren’t
beef burgers,” Gallo says.
Kefir
IF IT LOOKS, cooks, and even
“bleeds” like red meat, is
it still a veggie burger? Some
newcomers to the veggieburger scene hope to make
consumers do a dinnertime
double take. These new
products combine plant-based
proteins with other ingredients
to create a rich mouth feel
and meatlike taste and color.
How weird is it? Pretty
weird. This new breed of veggie
16
CR.ORG
LIKE YOGURT, kefir (most
often pronounced “kuh-FEER”
or “KEE-fur”) is a fermented
milk product with a tangy,
somewhat sharp flavor.
Both are riding the bandwagon
of the fermented-food trend
that’s been going strong for
the past several years. That’s
probably because of emerging
research about the role the
microbiome—the ecosystem
of good bacteria that resides
in your gut—plays in your
overall health.
How weird is it? Only a little.
Kefir has been enjoyed by
Europeans for centuries, but
yogurt is far more familiar to
mainstream U.S. shoppers,
and more popular. You’ll find
kefir near the yogurt in the
dairy section of many grocery
stores. The traditional
drinkable version is sold in
bottles; newer, thickened
versions come in yogurt-style
cups. You can drink or eat
plain or flavored kefir on its
own, add it to fruit or cereal,
or mix it into homemade
smoothies for a protein and
probiotic boost.
How healthy is it? Kefir
and other fermented foods,
including yogurt, sauerkraut,
tempeh (a fermented soy
product), kimchi (a traditional
Korean dish of salted and
fermented vegetables, often
cabbage), and kombucha (an
effervescent fermented tea)
are rich sources of probiotics.
They’re associated with a
healthy microbiome and
a number of other health
benefits, such as weight loss
and improved digestion and
immunity. Kefir has about
twice as many probiotics as
yogurt, according to one
manufacturer. But some kefir
products are high in fat, and
flavored versions may have
added sugar, so be sure to
check the label before you
buy. Like yogurt, kefir is only
as healthy as the ingredients
it contains.
How does it taste? Plain
kefir tastes similar to
plain yogurt, with a slightly
tarter flavor and a thinner
consistency. Flavored
versions are widely available,
and the sweetness of the
fruit or other flavoring tends
to balance kefir’s natural
sourness.
— Sue Byrne, Julia Calderone,
Trisha Calvo
JULY 2017
RECALLS
GARBAGE
DISPOSALS
Anaheim and
Moen are recalling
about 146,000
in-sink disposals because an
internal metal part can break
off while in use, potentially
causing injury. The disposals
were sold at retail and
plumbing-supply stores from
December 2015 through
March 2017 for $80 and
$450. What to do Stop using
the disposal and contact
Anaheim Manufacturing
at 800-628-0797 or go to
anaheimmfg.com to arrange
for a free replacement.
PICKUP TRUCKS
Toyota is recalling
about 228,000
model year 2016-17 Tacoma
pickup trucks because the
rear differential may leak
oil, causing noise, reduced
power, and seizing, which
could lead to a loss of control
and the risk of a crash.
What to do Dealers will
check the rear differential
for oil leakage and repair
it if necessary at no cost.
Call Toyota at 800-331-4331
or go to toyota.com/recall
for more details.
WATERABSORBING
TOYS
Target is recalling
about 560,000 Hatch
& Grow Easter Eggs, Easter
Grow Toys, and Hatch Your
Own Dino toys because
they can expand if ingested,
causing potentially lifethreatening intestinal
blockages requiring surgery.
The toys were sold at Target
from February 2017 through
March 2017 for about $1.
What to do Immediately
take the toy away from
children and return it to any
Target store for a full refund.
Call Target at 800-4400680 or go to target.com
for more information.
PHOTO (BOTTOM MIDDLE): HERA FOOD/ALAMY
of protein in parts of the world,
from South America to Africa
to New Zealand,” says Marvin
M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer
Reports’ chief medical adviser.
One reason is that regions with
warm climates year-round have
insects always readily available.
How healthy is it? “The
cricket-flour protein bars we
tested do have a high protein
content, but they can also
be high in calories,” Siegel
says. “Some had as many as
300 calories, which is really
like two snacks.”
“A big health benefit to
cricket-flour products may be
to the planet, in that they’re
a sustainable protein source,”
she adds. “Insects don’t
require much land or water,
certainly much less than cattle,
for example.”
If you want the extra protein
without the added calories,
look for plain cricket flour.
You can use it as a substitute
for some of the regular flour
in baked goods.
How does it taste?
“You can’t taste the cricket flour
in the bars we tried,” Siegel
says. As for the bars themselves,
they were chewy and mostly
tasted like dried fruits and
nuts, and some had other spices
and flavors added. Overall,
our tasters said that these
protein snacks were just okay.
Insights Ask Our Experts
Can I avoid fees for using
another bank’s ATM?
What’s a good
way to keep
track of
medications
I take?
The first thing to try is a daily
pill organizer that has two
rows, one for daytime and
one for nighttime. Take it to
your pharmacist and ask her
to organize your meds for you.
This works best if your regimen
is four or fewer drugs.
Certain independent
pharmacies and a handful
of CVS, Rite Aid, Target, and
Walgreens pharmacies offer
a “blister pack” service, which
can be useful for more complex
drug regimens. The pharmacy
presorts meds into single-use,
plastic packages by the time of
day you should take the drugs.
LEARN
We have more than
140 in-house experts
who research, test, and
compare! Submit your
questions at CR.org/
askourexperts ... and
watch for the answers.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY SERGE BLOCH
Using blister packs is
thought to cut down on errors
such as taking the wrong
drug or taking it at the wrong
time. Taking five or more
medications increases your
risk of making this kind of
mistake, according to research
published in the Journal of
Gerontological Nursing.
Another option is an online
pharmacy called PillPack.
PillPack fills prescriptions into
plastic blister packs at no cost.
You pay your normal 30-day
co-pay. Medication arrives in
the mail sorted and sealed into
individual packets with the
drug’s name and instructions
printed on the outside. The
service coordinates with your
insurance company, syncing up
multiple prescriptions so that
they all refill at the same time.
“Having your meds presorted
means no more fumbling
with pill bottles or confusing
instructions,” says Lisa Gill,
deputy editor of Consumer
Reports Best Buy Drugs.
PillPack takes manufacturer
co-pay discount coupons and
other drug discount coupons,
and can ship to every state
except Hawaii. But it doesn’t fill
prescriptions for certain meds
considered more likely to cause
dependence, such as Adderall
and Vicodin.
My 8-year-old window A/C
isn’t cooling like it used to. Is
it time to buy a new one?
Units should last eight to
10 years, but troubleshoot yours
before kicking it to the curb.
First, inspect the seal
around the unit to make sure
no warm outside air is leaking
in. Replace the weather
stripping if it has loosened
over time. Next, remove the
filter (usually located just
behind the grill) and clean it
with warm, soapy water. While
the filter dries, check the
now-visible evaporator coils. If
they’re covered in dust, clean
them with your vacuum’s
upholstery brush, taking care
not to bend the fragile fins.
“If the air coming from the
unit is still too warm, you
may have a problem with the
compressor or the level of
refrigerant, and should replace
your A/C if it’s out of warranty,”
says Chris Regan, CR’s senior
A/C tester. Warranties usually
last between one and five years.
The good news? Newer units
are more energy-efficient than
the one you own, so you’ll save
money on your utility bill. Look
for a model certified by Energy
Star. Online subscribers can
see our full air conditioner
ratings at CR.org/ac.
JULY 2017
When you get cash from outof-network ATMs, you could
incur two sets of fees—those
charged by your bank, known
as “out-of-network withdrawal
fees,” and those levied by other
banks, dubbed “surcharges.”
Today 40 percent of financial
institutions automatically
waive out-of-network fees
for their customers, up from
4 percent in 2012, according to
Moebs Services, an economic
research firm. Banks are more
willing to give up these fees—
which average around $1.67
per transaction, according to
Bankrate.com—as more people
turn to cashless payment
options. “This will become
standard practice in the next
two years,” says the firm’s CEO,
Michael Moebs.
If you’re hit with a surcharge
for using another bank’s
ATM—which averages $2.90
per transaction, according to
Bankrate.com—know that only
1 percent of banks refund those.
Among them are Alliant Credit
Union, Ally Bank, and USAA,
says Consumer Reports money
editor Jeff Blyskal. All three
were rated highly in our most
recent survey of banks and
credit unions and will refund
$10 to $20 per month in ATM
surcharges.
To skip the ATM altogether,
use your debit card “cash back”
option if it’s available—you
can usually withdraw as much
as $100 from your account.
But ask the retailer about any
associated fees.
CR.ORG
17
18
CR.ORG
JULY 2017
AT THE WHEEL OVER 65
Driving Safer,
Driving Longer
More drivers over age 65—even 85—are on the road than ever before,
and even greater numbers are on the way. But the good news is that more research
and innovation are being applied than ever before to meet the challenges.
by Michael Tortorello
ILLUSTRATIONS BY SHOUT
CR.ORG
19
AMERICANS LOVE TO DRIVE.
More than 75 percent
of adults carry a driver’s
license, including 40 million
who are 65 and older.
But driving is more than just
a passion or a pastime:
It’s a lifeline. Studies show
that giving up driving
increases a person’s mortality
risk and makes seniors more
likely to land in nursing
homes and suffer from
depression. Yet the average
American man outlives his
ability to drive by six years
and the average American
woman by 10 years.
So it’s not surprising that older people
are reluctant to stop driving. “Seniors
do not want to talk about or think about
when they can’t drive,” says Sandi
Rosenbloom, a professor of community
and regional planning at the University
of Texas at Austin. “I’ve done dozens
of focus groups in seven different
countries. If you ask seniors anywhere,
‘When do you think you won’t be able
20
CR.ORG
to drive?’ they will uniformly say about
10 years from whenever you ask. It
doesn’t matter what age they are when
you ask. They can be 80!”
Some of us do manage to drive well
into what geriatricians call “oldest-old”
age: More than 3.5 million Americans
85 and older currently hold a driver’s
license. At 95, Eldon Bartlett is one
of them. Bartlett, whose first car was a
JULY 2017
Model T, still pilots his 22-foot
Gulf Stream motor home on annual
trips between his home in Portland,
Ore., and an RV park in Arizona, where
he visits friends near Phoenix and
plays cribbage.
It would be wonderful if everyone
could count on Bartlett’s good fortune—
and good genes. Eventually, though,
physical or cognitive limitations (or
both) make driving safely difficult
or impossible for most older people,
compelling them to hang up their car
keys for good.
The problem is that most of them
have no other way of getting around.
Nearly three-quarters of seniors live in
areas with few—if any—transportation
alternatives, which means their options
for remaining mobile begin and end in
their own driveway.
All of this amounts to a senior
transportation predicament that will
only grow more urgent with the arrival
of the Silver Tsunami, a demographic
monster wave that will swell the 65-andolder population to a projected 74 million
in 2030 from 46 million in 2015.
Though it may at times seem
effortless, driving is a complex task
that requires, among other things,
healthy cognition and good flexibility.
(Think about craning your neck to
check your blind spot.) A long list of
medical conditions common to seniors
may impair both. Fourteen percent of
Americans ages 71 and older experience
some type of dementia; Alzheimer’s
disease affects about a third of the
population 85 and older.
Many more common medical
conditions can also limit the ability
to drive, including chronic pain,
diabetic neuropathy, failing vision,
and osteoarthritis.
Even the drugs we use to treat
medical conditions—painkillers,
antidepressants, and sleeping pills,
for example—can interfere with safe
driving. Almost 30 percent of the
seniors in one study were taking at
least five prescription medications.
Defying the Stereotypes
All of the challenges that come with
aging might lead you to assume that
seniors represent a special menace
behind the wheel. But data prove that
this assumption is fundamentally
wrong. Decades of statistics show that
crash rates per mile driven are highest
for the youngest drivers (ages 16 to
19), though they do begin to tick up
steadily once drivers roll past age 70.
But even at 85, senior drivers crash less
often, per mile, than teens. And when
they do, seniors are largely a danger to
themselves. (See “The Most Dangerous
Drivers,” on page 22.)
Older adults don’t get enough credit
for their safe driving habits, says Emmy
Betz, M.D., M.P.H., an emergency-room
physician and associate professor at the
University of Colorado School of Medicine
who researches senior-driving safety.
“Older drivers are more likely to use
seat belts and follow speed limits,” Betz
says. “They are less likely to drive at
night or while intoxicated, or to text
while they drive.” Many seniors also
regulate their driving behavior, limiting
their trips at night, on highways, or
during rush hour.
Public suspicion of older drivers isn’t
based on facts or research but on a
nonclinical factor: ageism. That’s the
assertion—and that’s the word—put
forward in a 300-page evidence-based
handbook, “The Clinician’s Guide
to Assessing and Counseling Older
Drivers,” that was revised last year by
the American Geriatrics Society and
published by the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration.
This ageism extends all the way to
our laws. Thirty-two states impose
special registration burdens based on
age, such as more frequent or in-person
license renewals, and medical approval
and vision tests. Maine requires vision
screening for drivers once they reach 40;
drivers 75 and older must pass a road
test to renew their license in Illinois; and
in Washington, D.C., drivers 70 and older
need to have their physician sign off on
their license renewal.
The effectiveness of these
interventions, however, appears to be
limited. A 2014 study in the journal
Injury Epidemiology concluded that
no policy it examined significantly
reduced fatal crashes for drivers
younger than 85.
Two policies did reduce fatality
rates considerably for the most senior
drivers: in-person renewals and
additional vision tests in states without
in-person renewal requirements.
Researchers speculate that these
policies work because they provide an
opportunity to identify drivers with
functional deficits and refer them to
further screening (possibly leading to
the denial of a license). Alternatively,
some seniors who rightly fear they
may not pass the screening may
simply not renew their license and
discontinue driving.
Researchers say that a quick and
accurate doctor’s office screen has
proved difficult to design. While many
people experience diminished vision,
cognition, or motor skills as they age,
those deficits occur at wildly different
rates and degrees. Some 79-year-olds
are hiking the Appalachian Trail;
How to Keep Driving Skills Sharp
These programs can enhance your abilities and increase safety behind the wheel.
C A R F IT
This free nationwide
educational program
developed with
AAA, AARP, and the
American Occupational
Therapy Association helps
seniors see more from the
driver’s seat.
During a 20-minute
drive-up appointment
(usually held in parking
lots at senior centers,
hospitals, and public
parks) specialists train
drivers to adjust mirrors
and seating height,
and to find the correct
distance from the pedal
and steering wheel to give
them the clearest possible
sight lines and safest
position for driving.
Will CarFit keep you
safer? The jury is out on
this one, said Dennis
McCarthy, a professor
and senior driving
researcher at Nova
Southeastern University
who stages CarFit
programs in Florida.
JULY 2017
But it does teach senior
drivers the benefits of
being properly positioned
in a car and puts them in
contact with experts who
can answer questions
and suggest a check-in
with a physician or an
ophthalmologist if one is
needed. The program’s
website, car-fit.org,
includes a searchable
calendar and map
(the Eastern states are
particularly well-covered)
with listings for about 300
events per year.
A A R P D R IV E R
PROG R A M S
Last year AARP led
continuing drivereducation courses
for 360,000 classroom
participants and another
130,000 participants
online, says Kyle Rakow,
the vice president and
national director of
AARP Driver Safety. State
regulations shape the
curriculum and course
duration: 4 to 8 hours
is a typical length.
The fee is usually $15
to $25, and the carinsurance savings can be
considerable: 10 percent
in a few states, including
New York and Georgia.
“Individuals walk in for
an insurance discount and
walk out a much safer
driver,” Rakow says. (Most
states allow insurance
companies to set their
own incentive rates; not all
give credit for the online
version of the course.)
Are safety-course
graduates less likely to
be involved in crashes
than other older drivers?
Probably not, according
to a handful of studies
collected by the Insurance
Institute for Highway
Safety. But participant
surveys show that these
programs prompt seniors
to reflect on their driving
knowledge, skills, risk
factors, and performance.
Classes can be found on
the AARP website (aarp.
org/findacourse).
CR.ORG
21
others find it impossible to climb a
flight of stairs.
Testing these two populations the
same way is futile, according to David
Carr, M.D., who has been developing
driver-screening tools at Washington
University Physicians, where he’s the
clinical director of geriatrics.
“The average older driver might
crash or fail a road test less than
10 percent of the time,” Carr says,
but the failure rate will be much
higher for patients with dementia
or a history of strokes. Which means
that rather than relying on age,
a worthwhile screening tool needs to
start by assessing a driver’s individual
health and risk factors.
Just six states require physicians to
report potentially dangerous patients
to state licensing authorities and
medical advisory boards; the rest
make such reporting voluntary. Last
year Florida, which doesn’t require
physician reporting, revoked almost
6,700 licenses for medical incapacity or
failure to provide a requested medical
form. It pulled nearly 3,900 drivers
off the road for failing a vision test or
neglecting to supply a vision report.
Still, the case for stronger laws is
a weak one. The latest study, in The
Gerontologist, a medical journal, failed
to find a corresponding reduction
in emergency-room admission rates in
states that require doctors to report
potentially dangerous older drivers.
Richard Marottoli, M.D., a professor
and geriatrician at Yale University,
counsels patients on driving cessation
but understands why overtaxed general
practitioners might shrink from the
task. “The conversation is emotionally
fraught,” he says. “It can put them in a
different relationship. Instead of being a
patient advocate, they become a patient
adversary.” The bogeyman in a white
coat coming for your keys.
The Most Dangerous Drivers
FATALITY RATE PER 100
MILLION MILES DRIVEN
Teens have more than twice as many accidents per mile driven as even the oldest drivers.
When it comes to fatalities, older drivers are more of a danger to themselves than to anyone else.
Someone outside
the driver’s car
Passenger
DRIVERS INVOLVED IN CRASHES,*
RATE PER 100 MILLION MILES DRIVEN
Driver
2,152
6
ACCIDENT FATALITY RATE PER 100 MILLION MILES DRIVEN
5.46
4
2.59
2.32
797
745
2
532
529
404
310
DRIVER
AGE
22
1,136
2.68
16-17
CR.ORG
18-19
20-24
25-29
30-39
40-49
*
282
256
50-59
60-69
358
369
70-74
75-79
1.19
1.17
80-84
85+
Reported to the police. Note: Data are for 2008-2009. Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety,
“Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age: United States, 1995–2010” (November 2012).
Staying in the Driver’s Seat
Clues for ways to keep seniors on
the road longer and safer could well
come from a major new longitudinal
study called LongROAD. The 5- to
10-year project, coordinated by the
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, is
following 3,000 seniors at five sites
across the U.S. Volunteers submitted
their full medical and driving records,
were interviewed, and allowed
tracking devices to be installed in
their vehicles. Over time, these trip
logs should provide researchers with
insights on matters great and small.
What time of the day do crashes occur,
at what speeds, and on what types
of roads? What medications were the
drivers taking at the time? Do moving
violations predict accidents?
But there’s plenty we already know.
“You absolutely can help people
drive longer,” says Betz, the Colorado
emergency-room doctor.
In terms of what you can do on
your own, studies have found that
cardiovascular exercise can slow
cognitive decline, and that strength
and flexibility programs can improve
senior performance on driving metrics
like neck rotation and response speed.
Continuing-education programs
probably can’t hurt. (See “How to Keep
Driving Skills Sharp,” on page 21.)
Senior drivers may also benefit from
working with a driver rehabilitation
specialist, a person trained to assess
a driver’s abilities and recommend
practical retraining, adaptive devices,
and sensible driving restrictions. In
shorthand, an occupational therapist
with wheels.
Kathy Woods is a certified driver
rehabilitation specialist who directs
four colleagues at the Courage Kenny
Rehabilitation Institute, a complex on
the western border of Minneapolis.
They see about 1,000 patients per
year, most of them older adults. Many
arrive with referrals from doctors or
caregivers; some come on their own.
Moving Right Along
Mobility managers
coordinate transportation
options to get seniors
where they need to go.
Last winter her team assisted a client
who was 101 years old.
The 3-hour evaluation is a daunting
audit that begins with the same general
cognitive and memory tests that a
neurologist might administer, followed
by a thorough vision screening.
A simulated-driving segment
presents video road hazards, and
multiple-choice questions assess the
driver’s judgment and knowledge
of traffic rules. A gas/brake apparatus
gauges reaction time. At the end of
the appraisal, Woods takes the client
out on the streets.
What clues does she look for? “Going
JULY 2017
through a red light, going through a
stop sign, weaving and drifting,” Woods
says. “The more subtle ones might be
stopping at a stop sign and not taking
their turn when it’s time to go, or
stopping at an intersection when they
don’t need to.”
A 2010 observational study in the
Journal of the American Geriatrics
Society found that older drivers commit
a greater number of minor errors (such
as failing to signal) and dangerous
ones (failing to stop at a red light) than
middle-age drivers do.
Prospective clients often ask Woods
what the program’s “success rate” is.
CR.ORG
23
It’s not a term she likes. Success, as she
defines it, can mean helping a client
return to driving, continue driving—or
never get behind the wheel again.
Shari Peterson, a 69-year-old professor
who recently got a diagnosis of mild
cognitive impairment, fell into the last
category after being evaluated.
“I sobbed for 2 minutes,” Peterson
recalls. “Then I said, I’m okay. My
grieving lasted only about a day.”
Peterson’s grace is atypical, Woods
says. Many seniors with dementia or
other memory impairment reject the test
results or demand another assessment.
They’re skeptical; they’re angry.
“There is a grieving process with this
major life change,” Woods says. “Some
accept the outcome more quickly, while
others struggle longer.”
Peterson’s son Brian, 39, says he was
impressed that his mother “was willing
to take the initiative to stop driving
instead of making it a fight.” It took the
pressure off him.
Adult children often see a driving
“retirement” not only as a threat to
a parent’s independence but also a
threat to their own.
“Adult children tell me all the time,
‘I don’t want to do to my child what my
parents have done to me,”’ Rosenbloom
says. “They get stressed; they often
have to move their parent out of the
home they’ve lived in for decades
because there are no transportation
services nearby.”
Peterson’s equanimity helped her
adapt. Friends now pick her up for
shopping trips. “I’ve been having a lot
of lunches out—you can get around,”
she says. She’d always considered
herself an independent woman, but she
recently concluded that “the people I
love, they take joy from helping me.”
Now and again she still gets to ride in
her car, a Mazda 6. But now she sits in
the passenger seat and her son drives.
This reversal still feels “surreal” to him,
he says. “One day you’re independent,
and the next day you’re not.”
It would be a mistake to think of
24
CR.ORG
a driver rehabilitation specialist as
someone whose job is to usher you
away from your car. Plenty of seniors
need to cease driving for a time after
a major health event: a knee or hip
replacement, for example, or openheart surgery, chemotherapy, or a
stroke. What may not be clear is when
and how to get back on the road.
Mike Grein, 70, is another client
of Woods’ practice. With her help he
regained the confidence to drive after a
serious collision (he wasn’t at fault) and
a grueling series of surgeries kept him
out of the driver’s seat for two years.
During his recovery period, Grein
relied on his wife, Nancy, to get around
town. When he said he wanted to start
driving again, she arranged for him to
meet with Woods.
Woods divides driving into different
functions, and with Grein, she says,
“the majority of them looked strong.”
“I was champing at the bit,” he says
about his return to driving.
Now when the couple travel to visit
their son, Nancy will be the one to
pilot their car through Atlanta traffic.
But during their vacation in Alaska,
“I would just as soon get behind the
wheel,” Grein says.
Driver rehabilitation specialists
provide an urgently needed service.
They’re also in short supply. States
including Arkansas and Alaska have
zero certified driver rehabilitation
specialists, and Texas and California
offer fewer than one for every
1.5 million people.
The Association for Driver
Rehabilitation Specialists has a
searchable database of specialists on its
website, aded.net. Insurance coverage
for the service is limited, and seniors
Reasons
Seniors Would
Stop Driving
LIKELIHOOD OF
GIVING UP DRIVING
Very likely
Somewhat likely
Factors people 65 and older say might
make them hang up the car keys for good.
Not very likely
Not at all likely
IF I SENSED I WAS
ENDANGERING MYSELF OR OTHERS
HAVING TOO MANY
ACCIDENTS OR CLOSE CALLS
PROFESSIONAL
CONSULTANT’S ADVICE
26%
56%
43%
DECLINING ABILITY
TO RESPOND QUICKLY TO
SURROUNDING TRAFFIC
29%
22% 4%
58%
DOCTOR’S JUDGMENT
ADVICE FROM
FAMILY
65%
25%
29%
41%
7%
12%
41%
44%
7%
9%
9%
12%
16%
10%
15%
8%
12%
Source: Based on responses to a spring 2016 Consumer Reports survey of 4,543 drivers nationwide.
generally must pay out of pocket. A
comprehensive driving assessment
costs about $400 to $600.
When the time to retire from driving
does come, most people discover that
they have far fewer options than they
had expected.
Some invest their hopes in the
little white vans they see around the
neighborhood: that is, paratransit.
But what we know about paratransit—
the federally mandated service for
people with disabilities—is mostly
wrong, according to Rosenbloom.
It operates only near established public
bus routes, which means it’s a limited
resource in most suburbs. And its use
is restricted to people who can’t reach
regular public transportation because
of a disability. Being unable to walk
is a disability; being old is not. Neither
is being unable to drive. Ultimately,
Americans over the age of 70 make
less than 0.5 percent of their trips on
public paratransit.
Self-driving automobiles could one
day help some seniors remain on the
road for as long as they’re able to get
into and out of a car, but that day is
probably still years—maybe decades—
away. And while ride services like
Lyft and Uber have made finding
transportation easier than ever
for many, they still present serious
limitations for seniors. (See “Not Taken
for a Ride,” starting on page 26.)
A City Full of Solutions
If senior transportation is a riddle,
experts say that at least part of the
solution can be found in Portland, Ore.,
at the headquarters of Ride Connection,
a nonprofit “mobility manager.” Last
year it provided 559,000 rides to
seniors and people with disabilities.
“Mobility management” means
different things in different locales. It
can be little more than a website that
posts the schedule of a neighborhood
senior shuttle or a social worker
in a healthcare facility who helps
Better by Design:
Making Cars That Meet the
Needs of Older Drivers
How three companies are leading the way to help keep aging drivers on the go.
FO R D
Newly minted car
designers don’t start out
with an understanding of
the needs of senior drivers
or others with limited
mobility or declining vision.
To help sensitize them,
Ford makes its engineers
and designers wear its
Third Age Suit, which
duplicates some of the
limited flexibility, hearing,
motion, vision, and even
sense of touch that seniors
can experience.
“The Third Age Suit
places our engineers
directly in the shoes of
older drivers, helping
them understand their
circumstances and
anticipate their needs,”
says Katie Allanson, a
human factors engineer
in Ford’s Interactions and
Ergonomics group.
Some of the details that
Ford considers include
seat-belt operation, ease
of opening doors, and
even the space between
the infotainment buttons
so that drivers can avoid
hitting two at once.
Advanced safety features
are always a balancing
act, no matter which
driver the manufacturer
has in mind. For instance,
engineers struggle with
how to create sound or
sight warnings that do the
job but won’t annoy or
overwhelm the driver.
S U BA R U
Subaru’s approach to
designing cars with
seniors in mind is to focus
on access, controls, and
visibility, and to keep its
cars free of anything that’s
confusing or complicated,
says Todd Hill, a product
manager. “We like to
be different from the
competition for good
reasons,” he says. “There’s
no point being different
just to be different. It has
to add value.”
Accessibility is a key
focus: for example, making
sure doors open wide, and
eliminating low or sloping
rooflines so that no one
has to duck to get into a
car. Subaru makes sure
gauges and touch screens
are large and visually
clean, with easily readable
fonts. Gauges are also
seniors make it to their chemotherapy
appointments. The broader idea is
to enable older people to find the
transportation options that exist in
their community and then help them
get where they need to go.
Ride Connection is a groundbreaker
in the field: a team of 96 employees in
a new modernist office building (plus
six satellite sites), all devoted to moving
JULY 2017
placed high on the
dashboard to help keep a
driver’s eyes on the road.
TOYOTA
Known for reliability and
value, Toyota relies heavily
on research, partnering
with institutions like the
University of Michigan and
Wayne State University to
explore issues, including
how to reduce injuries
to seniors in a crash. An
innovation that resulted
from its collaboration
with Wayne State was
a computer-simulated
model that revealed how a
70-year-old female’s bones
might break in a crash.
The modeling, meant to
educate designers about
gender’s role in aging,
hasn’t resulted in new
products yet. But Toyota’s
collaboration with a senior
center in Michigan has.
It led to changes in the
seat design in some
models to make it easier
for seniors to maneuver
out of their car.
—Michelle Naranjo
clients around metropolitan Portland.
Documentary photo portraits, at a
heroic scale, line the walls of the call
center: a tattooed woman in a crowd
with her service dog; a pair of elderly
women embracing. These images are
a constant reminder to the staff of the
people they’re working for.
Each month more than 200 new
customers call in to talk with a travel
CR.ORG
25
counselor. Over the course of a 30- or
60-minute call, the counselor will
record where the customer regularly
goes, describe what types of transit are
available, and pass him or her along
to a scheduler who books pickups and
drop-offs on community shuttles across
metropolitan Portland.
To the uninitiated, the logistics can
be challenging. For example, a senior
caller may need to travel to a doctor’s
appointment from his daughter’s house
in suburban Beaverton, then catch a
ride to a mosque in southeast Portland
before heading back home.
Fulfilling that itinerary demands
close listening and careful networking.
Some rides are fulfilled by staff,
volunteers, or a partner social service
agency. Or Ride Connection may
reimburse a neighbor who regularly
provides a lift to the grocery store.
It also operates its own fleet of
accessible vans, which volunteers can
drive. Ultimately, the organization’s
approach to mobility management
is less like a silver bullet and more
like buckshot. The staff members try
whatever works.
It helps that Portland has mobility
options to manage: TriMet, the regional
transit agency, operates almost
80 bus lines, five light-rail lines, and
a commuter rail system. The city has
Not Taken
for a Ride
Why Uber, Lyft, and
self-driving cars aren’t yet
the answer to the
senior-driving riddle.
26
CR.ORG
HOW WILL YOU navigate
the world when you can’t
drive anymore? You’ll
have to wait years if you
want to be chauffeured
around in a self-driving
car. A more immediate
solution might be found
in the thousands of
drivers just an app-tap
away through Lyft, Uber,
and other digital-age
transportation providers.
But even these have their
drawbacks.
To start, less than
a third of Americans
Far Horizons
Driver rehabilitation
specialists can help
seniors remain at the
wheel or return to
the road after illness.
over the age of 65
own a smart phone,
a prerequisite for
using an app. (It’s
technically possible—
but comparatively
impractical—to
preschedule a ride via
a website.)
Seniors with mobility
challenges might
encounter another
significant barrier: a
lack of accessible cars.
Uber offers a platform
called UberWAV (for
wheelchair-accessible
JULY 2017
vehicle) in 12 North
American cities and
another, UberASSIST, in
23 North American cities.
UberWAV is supposed
to match wheelchair
passengers with
vehicles equipped with
a hydraulic lift or ramp.
UberASSIST provides
elderly or mobilitychallenged riders with
drivers who will help
them into and out of a car.
But it’s easier to
publicize a service than
to deliver it. In October
2016, a disabilityadvocacy group in
Chicago called Access
Living filed a lawsuit in
federal court asserting
that Uber had failed
to provide the broadly
equivalent transportation
options required
by the Americans
With Disabilities Act.
Specifically, the suit
claimed that over a fouryear period, beginning
in August 2011 when
Uber arrived in Chicago,
the company provided
streetcar routes and an aerial tram
that resembles an Airstream trailer on
a ski-hill tow rope.
Ride Connection operates on an
annual budget of about $9 million,
including almost $2.3 million from
TriMet. At the same time, diverting
elderly and disabled passengers from
pricey paratransit services saved
TriMet $10 million in 2015-16.
“They move the masses. We move
individual community members,”
says COO Julie Wilcke, who started
out 25 years ago as a volunteer driver.
(Ride Connection had to turn down
35,000 valid ride requests last year
for lack of funding.)
If those seniors can manage to
take TriMet buses, all the better. The
challenge is that a 76-year-old who has
never ridden a bus in her life may not
feel inclined to start. What changes
someone’s mind, according to Dennis
McCarthy, a senior transportation
expert at Nova Southeastern University
in Florida, is trying it.
One of Ride Connection’s programs
is called Rider’s Club: It offers monthly
field trips for seniors on the city bus
line. They go for the cultural outings
and return with practical travel
training. After three such tours, more
than 90 percent of participants say they
would “consider the bus for everyday
exactly 14 rides to
customers who used a
motorized wheelchair.
Uber issued a
statement at the time
saying that it was
“committed to increasing
mobility and freedom
for all riders and
drivers,” including the
disabled. (In May, the
Chicago mayor’s office
announced a major
increase in wheelchairaccessible transit
options by making
50 wheelchair-accessible
Imagining a
Carless Future
Drivers who have considered the
possibility that they may have to
stay off the road some day:
KEY
Yes
71%
No
58%
42%
29%
65-74
75+
DRIVER AGE
Source: Based on responses to a spring 2016
Consumer Reports survey of 4,543 drivers nationwide.
vehicles from Lyft, Uber,
and VIA available within
six months.)
UberASSIST, which
relies on regular Uber
cars, could be a boon to
older adults who use a
cane, walker, or folding
wheelchair. But Uber
doesn’t require or pay
its drivers (independent
contractors) to get
UberASSIST training,
and there’s no financial
incentive for U.S. drivers
to provide these rides,
which may demand
more loading time
and door-to-door
assistance. And when
few UberASSIST cars are
on the road, a driver may
have to travel several
minutes to reach a rider
and then spend more
time to help him or her
into the car but can only
start the meter once the
passenger is buckled in.
Uber declined to
specify how many
UberASSIST vehicles
may be available in
any market in the U.S.
living activities,” Wilcke says.
Avonne Dressler first called Ride
Connection after she saw one of its
vans with the phone number on the
side parked outside the senior center
in Forest Grove, a farming community
and college town on the route west
from Portland to the Pacific Coast.
“My husband did all the driving,”
Dressler said recently over lunch
at the senior center with six of her
friends. She married at age 18 when
her husband returned from service
in WWII and, like many of her
contemporaries, never learned to drive.
After Dressler’s husband suffered a
brain bleed in 1997, she became his copilot. This involved calling out objects
on the right side, which he could no
longer see, and acting as his navigator.
The beginning of Alzheimer’s was the
end of her husband’s driving.
Dressler and her husband struggled
to adapt to their new life without a car.
“I don’t think you ever are ready to lose
an ability to be on your own,” she said.
Dressler, 89, has been a widow for
eight years. “I don’t just wither on the
vine,” she said. Daily service from Ride
Connection helps make that possible.
It shuttles her to the senior center for
lunch and on Fridays to the Hair House,
where she has kept a standing weekly
appointment since 1981. On Saturdays
A spokeswoman said
the company is piloting
different types of ASSIST
models across the globe,
and in many cities it’s
working well. “We still
have more learning
to do before it is a
widespread success,” the
spokeswoman said.
Lyft and Uber have
forged dozens of
partnerships over the
past year with senior
residences, major health
systems, and even the
paratransit service of
the Massachusetts Bay
Transportation Authority.
Last January Lyft
debuted a “concierge”
feature, which allows
selected care providers
to book a trip for a
senior; Uber says it
offers a similar service.
These services have the
potential to lower the
cost and wait times for
nonemergency medical
transportation, but most
passengers with limited
mobility will still have to
wait for their ride.
CR.ORG
27
she goes grocery shopping with her
daughter and then to lunch.
Of the seven people at the table, the
youngest was 77 years old, and everyone
but Dressler was still driving. The oldest,
at 95, was the Gulf Stream owner, Eldon
Bartlett, who recalled that he once had a
fender-bender.
“I ran into the side of a ’38 Ford and
had to buy him a new hubcap,” Bartlett
said. When lunch ended, he offered
me a ride to the train station, 8½ miles
away. I accepted with nary a hesitation.
Planning for the Future
Most of us understand that we need to
plan for a time when we surrender our
car. But very few of us actually prepare
for that eventuality, says Marottoli,
the Yale professor. “We should but we
don’t,” he says. “It’s not unique to this
situation or age group.”
It was all the more exceptional,
then, to meet the future occupants of
a new 27-unit development called PDX
Commons in Portland’s Sunnyside
neighborhood. One of the project’s
planners, a retired documentary
filmmaker named Jim Swenson, 73,
walked me around the bohemian
streetscape.
The number 15 bus stopped in front of
the new residence every 7 to 15 minutes
before rumbling downtown. This being
Portland, the retail offerings down
the street include a video-rental shop
(90,000 titles), a bespoke hatter, and a
storefront advertising children’s ukulele
lessons. Swenson can also walk easily
to a grocery store, a public library, and
a pharmacy. Someone had counted
175 places to get a meal within a 1-mile
radius. A future Commoner had already
cashiered her Volvo and parked some of
the proceeds in a new bike.
After its midyear opening, Swenson
said, PDX Commons would become
the first “co-housing” community
in Portland dedicated to seniors.
Each buyer will own a self-contained
condominium, and some 5,000 square
feet have been given over to shared
amenities: a commercial kitchen;
a 50-seat dining hall (which could
double as a yoga studio), a wet bar, and
Risky Business on the Road
KEY
Driving difficulties and errors reported
during the previous six months, by age group.
Ages 18-29
Ages 75+
31%
21%
20%
18%
10%
8%
6%
2%
HAD DIFFICULTY
MERGING INTO
TRAFFIC OR
CHANGING LANES
28
CR.ORG
DROVE THROUGH
A STOP SIGN OR
RED LIGHT
ACCIDENTALLY
PUT THE CAR IN
REVERSE INSTEAD
OF DRIVE
HAD DIFFICULTY
ADJUSTING TO
FASTER TRAFFIC
AROUND
suites for overnight guests that could
also become rooms for healthcare
attendants. Instead of driving to find a
community, these seniors plan to build
one under their own roof.
Co-housing communities were
originally inspired by intentional
communities in Denmark called
bofaellesskaber (or “living together”).
The Cohousing Association of the
United States lists a dozen completed
senior communities, with the greatest
number being in California and
New Mexico. Another two are under
construction, and a dozen more hope
to graduate from the planning stage.
The monthly potluck dinner Swenson
and his wife, Janet Gillaspie, often
attend is filled with a prosperous and
progressive crowd in their late 50s,
60s, and 70s. Two midwives, an auto
executive, and a Lutheran bishop were
among the Commoners at a gathering
last winter. When they talked about
driving into old age, many had recently
observed the trajectory of their
senescent parents.
Gillaspie’s mother and father
developed dementia in their early 80s.
They had just built a new showpiece
home. They had thought ahead, locating
the master bedroom and a bathroom on
the main floor.
What they seemingly hadn’t
considered was that the house with
the beautiful view would be isolated,
an hour north of Portland. Without a
car they would be stuck there. That’s
what happened, and that’s where they
remained until relocating last year to a
residential-care facility.
“It doesn’t take a huge amount of
personal experience to imagine what
aging is going to be like,” Gillaspie said.
“If you don’t make a plan, a plan will be
made for you.”
At 61, she’s still working as an
environmental consultant. She can’t
predict how the experiment of PDX
Commons will turn out. But it looks like
a pretty good plan, she said. One that
she has made for herself.
Source: Based on responses to a spring 2016 Consumer Reports survey of 4,543 drivers nationwide.
The Top 25 New Cars for Senior Drivers
Our picks combine reliability, safety, and senior-friendly features.
Overall
Score
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
0
Opt.
NA
Opt.
Opt.
0
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
Std.
Std.
Std.
Opt.
0
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
NA
0
Std.
Std.
Std.
Opt.
Std.
NA
Opt.
Opt.
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
0
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
NA
0
Std.
NA
NA
Opt.
0
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
0
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
0
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
77
0
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
$30,595-$47,070
75
0
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
Compact Sedan
$16,490-$23,690
76
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
Ford Escape
Compact SUV
$23,600-$34,800
71
Std.
NA
Opt.
Opt.
21
Toyota Corolla
Compact Sedan
$18,500-$22,680
77
Std.
Std.
Std.
NA
22
Kia Sorento
Midsized SUV
$25,400-$45,700
82
0
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
23
Ford Flex
Large SUV
$29,710-$42,710
74
0
Std.
NA
Opt.
Opt.
24
Hyundai
Santa Fe
Midsized SUV
$25,350-$38,250
78
0
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
25
Hyundai Tucson
Compact SUV
$22,700-$31,175
75
Std.
Opt.
Opt.
Opt.
0
0
0
0
0
1
Subaru Forester
Compact SUV
$22,595-$34,295
83
2
Subaru Outback
Wagon
$25,645-$38,640
75
3
Kia Soul
Compact Car
$16,100-$35,950
71
4
Subaru Legacy
Midsized Sedan
$21,995-$31,640
79
5
Kia Sportage
Compact SUV
$23,200-$34,200
76
0
6
Toyota
Highlander
Midsized SUV
$30,630-$47,880
84
0
7
Toyota Prius V
Compact Car
$26,675-$30,935
71
0
8
Toyota RAV4
Compact SUV
$24,910-$36,150
79
0
9
Honda Odyssey
(2017)
Minivan
$29,850-$45,325
79
0
10
Nissan Rogue
Compact SUV
$23,820-$32,510
71
0
11
Honda Accord
Midsized Sedan
$22,455-$35,955
82
12
Ford C-Max
Hybrid
Compact Car
$24,170-$31,770
73
13
Hyundai Sonata
Midsized Sedan
$21,600-$34,350
75
0
14
Toyota Camry
(2017)
Midsized Sedan
$23,070-$31,370
84
0
15
Subaru
Crosstrek
Subcompact
SUV
$21,695-$25,195
76
0
16
Toyota Sienna
Minivan
$29,750-$47,310
79
17
Honda CR-V
Compact SUV
$24,045-$33,695
18
Honda Pilot
Midsized SUV
19
Kia Forte
20
JULY 2017
0
0
0
Headlights
Opt.
Control
Opt.
Visibility
Opt.
Front-Seat Access
Blind-Spot
Warning
Safety Features
Std.
Rank
Senior drivers and others with
limited mobility need a car
that’s easy to get into and
out of, with controls that are
easy to reach and intuitive to
use. We’ve combed through
our ratings to find the 25 new
models that we think best fit
the bill. All are recommended
by Consumer Reports and
earned an Overall Score of
Excellent or Very Good in
their respective categories
(representing road-test
performance, predicted
reliability, owner satisfaction,
and safety).
We determined the rankings
in this chart by giving special
consideration and extra
weighting to specific features
we think are essential for
senior drivers:
Front-seat access: Low
door sills, wider openings, and
step-in heights that reduce the
need for ducking or climbing
make entry easier for those
with physical limitations.
Visibility: We chose cars
that enable tall, medium, and
shorter drivers to see out of
the front, sides, and back.
Controls: These cars
have easy-to-read gauges
and intuitive controls for
changing the radio, shifting
gears, and adjusting the
heating and cooling.
Headlights: Powerful
headlights can make
driving at night easier for
people with decreasing
or compromised vision.
The symbols in the Senior
Features columns represent
vehicles that excel for those
attributes when compared
with the other recommended
vehicles on the list.
Senior
Features
Forward-Collision
Warning
Price
Automatic
Emergency Braking
Vehicle Class
Backup Camera
Make & Model
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
CR.ORG
29
Faster,
Fresher,
Cheaper
Food shopping has undergone a revolution
as consumers demand local produce, organic choices,
low prices, and more convenience. Here, how
to make the most of reimagined supermarkets,
boutique options, and online grocers.
by Tobie Stanger
30
No More One-Stop
Shopping
Each month 68 percent
of Americans shop at
five different types of
food retailers.
CR.ORG
31
A
company in Bellevue, Wash. “Today
the choices are extraordinary,” says
Laurie Demeritt, the company’s chief
executive officer.
nnMarie Henry cares a lot
about the food her family eats. During growing
season in her town of East Nottingham Township,
Pa., the 35-year-old stay-at-home mom walks
down the street to her Amish neighbors’ farm to
buy fresh eggs and pesticide-free strawberries,
vegetables, and herbs. She skips the supermarkets
near her home to purchase the “perfect” organic
oranges and lemons that she says she can get
only at Wegmans, a 30-minute drive away.
About once per month, she’ll also make a special
trip to Trader Joe’s, 40 minutes away, to load up
on the organic brown rice and quinoa noodles
she feeds her 1-year-old, Adam.
When Henry and her husband, Bill,
34, a public-school music teacher, feel
pressed for time, they grab the basics at
a local Giant supermarket. Bill goes to
BJ’s Wholesale Club on occasion. They
sometimes have meal kits delivered by
Blue Apron and HelloFresh. And they
use AmazonFresh, the online grocery
delivery service, which charges $15
monthly on top of the $99 annual Amazon Prime subscription. Henry admits
that getting organic produce and meats
delivered to their door is an indulgence. “But the convenience factor is
worth every penny,” she says.
Few families have the good fortune
of having an Amish neighbor, but in
32
CR.ORG
every other way the Henrys typify
the new American food shopper, who
wants food that’s very fresh and minimally processed, and satisfies an evermore-adventurous palate. We seek out
specialty grocers and farmers markets
to get it, even if it means literally going
the extra mile. Each month 68 percent
of Americans shop at five or more
types of food retailers—convenience
stores, discount supercenters, farmers markets, specialty/natural-food
stores, supermarkets, and warehouse
clubs. In addition, we might go to
more than one of each type of store,
according to the Hartman Group, a
food and beverage industry consulting
JULY 2017
Where does the traditional grocery
store fit into this mix? Experts say the
supermarkets that have anchored many
a community are struggling to compete
with higher-end retailers such as Wegmans on one hand and bargain vendors
like Walmart and Costco on the other.
Witness the disappearance of the Great
Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, otherwise known as A&P, which folded in
2015 after 156 years.
“Just as the middle class is shrinking, the middle class of grocery stores
is being challenged,” says Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food
Marketing Institute (FMI), a grocery
industry group.
The supermarkets that are doing well
are premium stores such as Wegmans,
specialty stores like Trader Joe’s, and
discounters such as WinCo. “Traditional
supermarkets are stuck in the middle,”
Demeritt says.
Consumer Reports subscribers’
preferences mirror these trends. In
our latest ratings of 62 supermarkets
and food retailers, based on responses
from almost 58,000 subscribers, East
Coast chain Wegmans earned the top
spot, a place it has held since 2006.
(See our ratings chart, on page 42.) It’s
beloved for most everything, from the
quality and variety of produce to the
courtesy of staff.
Other stores that did very well overall
include Trader Joe’s, Publix, and the
family-owned Market Basket chain,
serving the Northeast. Walmart, with
the largest market share for food and
beverages of any U.S. retailer, scored
well for competitive prices but otherwise was at the bottom of our ratings.
Mainstream grocery stores still have
fans. Our survey that found 70 percent
PHOTO, PREVIOUS SPREAD: GETTY IMAGES
End of the
Middle-Class Market?
What Wins Loyalty
“It’s now values as
much as value,” one
expert says about what
makes Americans rate
a grocer highly.
PHOTO: EDUCATION IMAGES/UIG/GETTY IMAGES
of CR readers were either completely
or very satisfied with the supermarkets
where they do most of their grocery
shopping. By contrast, only 48 percent
told us they’re very or completely
satisfied with their markets’ healthy
offerings, and only 29 percent said the
same about the price of their markets’
organic options.
Keys to Shopper
Satisfaction
What draws us to a market week after
week? A wide selection, high-quality
produce, and good prices are the
main attractions, our survey respondents say. But stores that offer an
alluring sensory experience—the
scent of cinnamon-apple pies from
the bakery oven, the sight of plump
purple and ivory eggplants in a rustic
wooden case—bring us back.
Attention to these details might
explain Wegmans’ popularity. The chain,
with 92 stores from Massachusetts to
Virginia, charmed our survey respondents with its selection of healthy
options, customer service, reasonably
competitive prices, and fresh storeprepared foods, and the quality of its
poultry and meats, among other standout features. “Wegmans produce is the
freshest in town, and the selection is
huge,” Barbara Goldenberg, of Frederick, Md., says of her local store.
What else contributes to appreciation of a grocer? Stores with the highest
scores for staff courtesy all did well.
Increasingly, a commitment to principles that shoppers deem important—for
instance, fair-trade goods, sustainably
and locally farmed foods, and fair labor
practices—also wins loyalty, says David
JULY 2017
Fikes, FMI’s vice president of communications and consumer/community
affairs. “It’s now values as much as
value,” he says.
But price is and always will be a great
motivator. Grocers with the highest
scores for competitive prices are for the
most part near the top of our ratings.
One such store, Woodman’s, which
operates in Illinois and Wisconsin,
passes savings on by selling certain
items in bulk. WinCo, with 115 stores
in the West, also sells bulk items,
and takes no credit cards to avoid
transaction fees.
The growing variety of both low- and
premium-priced food stores means a
dedicated WinCo bargain hunter could
be the same person frequenting Whole
Foods for pricey organic cherries,
Demeritt says. “People go to different
places for different things,” she says.
CR.ORG
33
The Changing
Landscape
To respond to our evolving foodshopping tastes, supermarkets are
offering novel formats, products,
and services:
Smaller footprints. Rather than taking a one-store-fits-all approach, some
grocers are hypertargeting a single customer type and scaling back in size as a
result. Those new locations offer a more
“curated” experience—say, selling just a
few choices of organic olive oil instead
of many—saving shoppers the work of
distinguishing among brands.
To attract time-pressed millennials,
Whole Foods has opened new Whole
Foods Market 365 stores in four U.S.
locations. The smaller-format stores
feature primarily Whole Foods’ 365
Everyday Value products. Focusing on
the higher-profit store brand and managing fewer square feet also could help
the company’s profit margins, notes Asit
Sharma, senior consumer goods analyst
at the investing website Motley Fool.
Aldi is a fast-growing, no-frills vendor
What
Labels
Mean—
and Don’t
34
CR.ORG
that operates stores about a third
the size of a typical American grocer.
It sells a limited selection, mainly of
private-label goods; our readers rated it
highly for competitive prices.
Local farm partnerships. Many
supermarkets have added locally grown
produce sections. Dierbergs, which
debuts in our ratings this year, is one
example. The family-owned chain, with
locations mainly in Missouri, shows a
photo gallery of local partner farms on
its website. Readers gave the quality of
Dierbergs’ local produce top marks.
Meal kits without the wait. To
compete with online meal-kit vendors,
Giant Food Stores, based in Pennsylvania, offers fresh meal kits through its
partnership with the Peapod grocery
delivery service. Each $15 box comes
with enough premeasured, fresh ingredients to make two servings following
a provided recipe. (See our reviews
of five meal-kit services in the October 2016 issue, as well as at CR.org/
mealdelivery0717.)
Home delivery. Responding to the
threat from online grocers, many chains
WE ALL WANT healthier
foods, but reading labels
won’t always help you
spot them. Many terms
are defined and regulated
by the Food and Drug
Administration or the
Department of Agriculture,
depending on the type of
food. But similar-sounding
terms might not be.
And even when a term
has a clear definition,
using it on a package can
give the impression that
a food is healthy overall
when it might not be. For
example, a study in the
Journal of the Academy
of Nutrition and Dietetics found that shoppers
gravitate toward labels
JULY 2017
now offer this amenity. (See our ratings
of online grocers, on page 37.) Safeway
charges $13 to deliver orders of less than
$150 and $10 for orders of $150 or more.
Kroger and Walmart have begun testing
door-to-door delivery in certain locations, with Walmart using the delivery
service Deliv and car services Lyft and
Uber. Publix is testing home delivery in
certain areas of the Southeast.
Curbside service. Walmart offers a
“click and collect” system called Online
Grocery Pickup in more than 30 states:
Consumers buy online and drive to a
Walmart store to pick up their bagged
orders at designated times for no fee.
Kroger’s ClickList service, available in
about 300 locations, works the same
way. Patrons pay a $5 pickup fee,
waived for the first three deliveries.
AmazonFresh is experimenting with
curbside pickup in two Seattle-area
locations. The retailer plans to expand
the service to Amazon Prime members without requiring an additional
AmazonFresh membership fee.
such as “low sodium,” “low
fat,” and “reduced sugar,”
but foods and drinks with
these claims weren’t significantly healthier than
similar products without
the claims and in some
cases were less healthy.
How can that be? Because
a low-sodium soup may
well fall within the FDA
guidelines of 140 mg or
less per serving but could
still be high in calories, fat,
or sugars.
Here, then, are pairs of
terms to keep distinct in
your mind:
‘Organic’ vs. ‘Natural’
ORGANIC This term is
strictly regulated and can
Continued on page 36
be on a label only when
farmers and processors
adhere to federal standards designed to promote a more sustainable
food system. To be called
organic, a food must contain at least 95 percent
organic ingredients, which
means crops are grown
with fewer pesticides and
no synthetic fertilizers
or genetically modified
organisms, and farm animals are fed organic feed
and raised without the
routine use of drugs such
as antibiotics. Processed
foods labeled “organic”
also cannot contain artificial ingredients unless
they go through a rigorous
Shop Like a
Food Safety
Expert
MANY OF US just want to get in and out of the
supermarket quickly. But in our rush, “some
of us handle the food we buy in a way that
poses safety risks, like spoilage and crosscontamination, that can result in illness,” says
James E. Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety
and research at Consumer Reports. To avoid
spreading harmful germs, “you need to practice
the fundamentals of food handling, just as
when you’re cooking at home,” says Shelley
Feist, executive director of the Partnership for
Food Safety Education. To stay truly safe, you
may need to risk looking slightly germophobic
in public, but it’s well worth it.
review process, and have
no artificial preservatives,
colors, or flavors.
NATURAL A 2015
nationally representative
Consumer Reports survey
found that 62 percent of
consumers seek out foods
with the “natural” label,
and roughly as many
of them think this term
means no pesticides, no
antibiotics, and other attributes of organic. But
it doesn’t. There is little
government regulation
of this term. CR has petitioned the FDA to ban it
because it is so misleading. Recently the agency
called for public comments on the use of the
word on labels, and it is
currently reviewing them.
Meanwhile, manufacturers continue to use it.
‘Pasture Raised’
vs. ‘Free Range’
PASTURE RAISED This
term alone on your egg
carton does not have
any meaning. Look for it
in combination with the
“American Humane Certified” or the “Certified
Humane” seal. Together
they mean that the hens
must be outside every
day and have lots of
space to roam.
FREE RANGE This claim
on egg cartons implies
that the hens get to
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MICHAEL BRANDON MYERS
Clean your shopping
cart. Wipe down the
child seat, as well as
the cart handle, with a
disinfecting wipe. A study
from the journal Food
Protection Trends found
E. coli on 50 percent
of shopping cart
handles. If your store
doesn’t provide hand
sanitizer and wipes, take
your own.
Use hand sanitizer. It’s
a must after handling
raw and packaged
poultry at the meat
counter if soap and
water aren’t available.
Take care of your
reusable bags. They
may be great for the
environment, but if you
don’t keep them clean,
they could be hazardous
to your health. Store
bags in the cleanest
area of the car and
launder or wipe them
down with hot, soapy
water at least once per
month. “Meat, poultry,
and even produce can
move freely outdoors.
But the label has no
meaning alone. Look for
it in combination with the
“American Humane Certified” seal to ensure that
the hens have sufficient
outdoor space to roam.
‘100% Whole Grain’
vs. ‘Made With
Whole Grains’
100% WHOLE GRAIN
A product with this
label should contain
exclusively whole grains
and should have whole
wheat flour (or another
whole grain) listed as the
first ingredient.
MADE WITH WHOLE
GRAINS This means a
JULY 2017
leave behind bacteria
that can linger in the
bag and contaminate
other food,” says
Marianne Gravely, M.S.,
a food safety specialist
with the Department
of Agriculture’s Office
of Public Affairs and
Consumer Education.
Check your eggs. Open
the carton and make
sure none are cracked.
“If one cracks on the way
home, just make sure to
cook it within 24 hours,”
Gravely says.
Bag meat of any kind
separately. Juices from
meat and poultry can
drip onto other food,
spreading bacteria, Feist
says. “At home, keep it
in that same bag in the
refrigerator until ready
to use.”
Organize your cart.
A Journal of Food
Protection study observed
shoppers putting poultry
in their cart’s main
basket, with other foods
around it, 84 percent of
product might contain
only a small amount
of whole grain—the
rest of the grains can
be refined.
‘Low Sodium’ vs.
‘Reduced Sodium’
LOW SODIUM Because
it guarantees no more
than 140 mg of sodium
per serving, a product
with this term is the right
choice for anyone trying
to keep his or her salt
intake in check.
REDUCED SODIUM
For this designation,
a product has to have
at least 25 percent
less sodium than the
full-sodium version of
the time. “Keep meat
and produce separated,”
Gravely says. “And keep
cold and frozen foods
together in your cart and
grocery bag, so they
help keep each other
cooler longer.”
Shop the perimeter
last. The store is
arranged for you to pick
up produce, meat, and
dairy before shopping
the main aisles, but it’s
safer to put products
requiring refrigeration
into your cart last. “That
way they’ll spend the
least time possible out of
the cold,” Gravely says.
Get food home
quickly. Make grocery
shopping your last
errand before heading
home. Perishable food
should not be out of
refrigeration for more
than 2 hours, or 1 hour in
hot weather. Buy some
extra time by keeping
a cooler in your car for
stowing perishables.
—Sally Wadyka
the same product. It
could still deliver a big
sodium punch.
‘Sugar Free’ vs.
‘Unsweetened’
SUGAR FREE Such a
product contains less
than 0.5 gram of sugar
per serving—including
naturally occurring
fruit and milk sugars.
But it can (and often
does) contain artificial
sweeteners.
UNSWEETENED No
sugars—or artificial
sweeteners—have been
added to the product. It
may still contain sugars
that occur naturally.
—Sally Wadyka
CR.ORG
35
The Rise of
the Virtual Market
Amazon’s real impact on the industry,
though, is in food delivery. In 2016 Consumers used its food and beverage channels—including Prime and Pantry for
packaged goods and AmazonFresh for
fresh and nonperishable groceries—more
than any other online grocery retailer,
says Cowen and Company, an investment research firm.
AmazonFresh tops our satisfaction
ratings of four online grocers, though
its competitors—Instacart, Peapod,
and FreshDirect—are close behind.
Sixty-one percent of readers who used
AmazonFresh told us they were highly
satisfied with the service. Shopping
through online grocers is still a modest
portion of the marketplace; in the U.S.,
just 23 percent of households are buying
food and beverages this way, according
to research released in January by FMI
and Nielsen. But interest is projected to
climb; 72 percent of all ages surveyed—
and 80 percent of surveyed millennials—
expect to buy groceries online in the
future, the report notes.
Amazon’s innovations could eventually influence the operations of walk-in
stores as well. Bucking its virtual roots,
the retail giant last year announced the
opening of a new grocery store prototype: a location in Seattle with no checkout lanes. Instead of paying at a cashier
(self-checkout or otherwise), customers
would simply grab what they wanted
and leave, without ever engaging with
an employee. This would be made possible through a smartphone app and
sensors placed throughout the store.
Payment would be made automatically
when the app linked to customers’
mobile-payment services. Initial customers were Amazon employees; in March
the company postponed a public rollout,
citing technical problems.
Could the success of online groceries
spell the end of the traditional kind? Not
likely, analysts say. Stores will “just be
smaller, more efficient, and focused on
value-added shopping,” says Tré Musco,
CEO and chief creative officer of Tesser,
a brand-strategy and retail design firm
based in San Francisco. “There will be
more delivery and ordering online. Even
if there’s no one at checkout, you might
have face-to-face conversations with an
in-house dietary consultant or the person who loads your groceries into your
car, or a chef preparing meals to order.
“As long as people want to see,
touch, and smell their fresh food,”
Musco adds, “the brick-and-mortar
store is here to stay.”
Virtual Grocers
Make Gains
Amazon is a dominant
online food seller; its
AmazonFresh service
topped our online
grocer ratings.
Do Online Grocers
Really Deliver?
THE FOUR ONLINE grocers
we rated for customer
satisfaction—based on
1,721 reader responses—operate
differently. AmazonFresh,
FreshDirect, and Peapod
deliver from their own regional
fulfillment warehouses. Peapod
has exclusive relationships
with regional supermarkets
Giant Food and Stop & Shop
but fulfills your order at its
AmazonFresh
74
0
READER
SCORE
Instacart
70
0
READER
SCORE
Peapod
69
0
READER
SCORE
PHOTO: MARK MAKELA
FreshDirect
69
0
READER
SCORE
own warehouses. Instacart
teams up with a number of
stores in your vicinity and
hires a shopper to go to those
places and shop; you can have
everything delivered at once,
but orders from each store must
cost at least $10.
Convenience and saving
time are—no surprise—online
grocers’ major appeal. Judith
Freed, a CR subscriber who lives
in a Brooklyn, N.Y., high-rise,
loves that she can schedule
a FreshDirect delivery to her
apartment door within a day.
AnnMarie Henry, who lives in
southeastern Pennsylvania,
appreciates the AmazonFresh
website’s features. “You can
create specific grocery lists like
‘taco night’ or ‘dairy products,’
which helps with meal
planning,” she says.
Marla Ballenger of Chicago,
who uses Instacart, likes that
she can text with the shopper
who’s picking out her groceries
and specify substitute items
if the store is out of what she
wants. But, she notes, if you’re
the kind of shopper who needs
to squeeze the melons, don’t
use these services for produce.
“No one picks out fresh fruit and
veggies like you do yourself.”
DELIVERY
AREA
FOOD -RETAILER
AFFILIATIONS
MINIMUM ORDER, DELIVERY
CHARGES, AND OTHER FEES
SUBSTITUTION
POLICY
Baltimore; Chicago; Dallas; Los
Angeles; Md.; New York City;
northern Va.; Philadelphia;
Sacramento, Calif.; San Diego,
San Jose, Calif.; San Francisco;
Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and
others.
Not affiliated with another
retailer, but customers may
be able shop for items from
local merchants through
the company’s Local Market
program.
Required $99 Amazon Prime
subscription. AmazonFresh $15
monthly fee covers unlimited
orders of $40 or more. For
orders of less than $40 there is
a $10 delivery fee.
Substitutions are made at the
company’s discretion. You pay
only if the substitution is almost
identical to what you ordered,
at the lower of the two prices.
Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston;
Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago;
Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver;
Detroit; Houston; Indianapolis;
Las Vegas; Los Angeles;
Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee;
New York City; Orlando, Fla.;
Philadelphia; Phoenix; San
Diego; San Francisco Bay
Area; Seattle; St. Louis; south
Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; Twin Cities;
Washington, D.C.; and others.
Acme, Andronico’s, Bi-Rite,
BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco,
Cub Foods, Fairway, Food
Lion, Giant Food, Good Grocer,
Harris Teeter, H-E-B, H mart,
Jewel-Osco, Key Food, Kroger,
Lakewinds Food Co-op,
Mariano’s, Market Basket,
Mollie Stone’s, Publix, Ralph’s,
Safeway, Smart & Final, Target,
Wedge Community Co-op,
Whole Foods, and others.
Delivery free on first order of
$35 or more. Normal minimum
order $10. Variable delivery fee.
“Busy Pricing” charged during
peak delivery times raises
delivery price. 10% optional
“service fee” to provide “high
guaranteed commissions” to its
shoppers, but the fee isn’t a tip
and doesn’t go directly to an
individual shopper.
The Instacart shopper
contacts you if what you
ordered is out of stock and
tries to replace it with the next
best option. Items that can’t
be replaced will be removed
from your bill.
Conn.; Indianapolis; Mass.; Md.;
metro Chicago; Milwaukee;
N.J.; N.Y.; Philadelphia and
southeast and central Pa.; R.I.;
southeast Wis.; southern N.H.;
Va.; Washington, D.C.
Giant Food, Stop & Shop.
Minimum order $60. Delivery
fee: $9 to $10 on orders of $60
to $100, $7 to $8 on orders
of more than $100. Available
discounts can lower delivery fee
to $3 per order.
You indicate whether to allow
substitutions. Peapod delivers
a comparable product at no
extra cost to you. Or you can
return the substitution to the
Peapod driver for a full refund.
Fairfield, Conn.; Hamptons,
N.Y., in the summer; Jersey
shore; metro New York
City; New Castle, Del.; N.J.;
Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.
Not affiliated with another
retailer.
Minimum order $40; $99 in
Hamptons. Delivery: $7 to $10;
$16 to Hamptons.
Substitutions are made at
the company’s discretion.
Customers who aren’t happy
can email FreshDirect, “so
we can make it right,” in the
company’s words.
HOW WE SURVEY: A total of 57,805 Consumer Reports subscribers completed the 2016 Supermarkets Survey; 6 percent have used an online grocery. Online grocery Reader
Scores are based on 1,721 ratings of online grocers. Reader Score refers to how respondents rated overall satisfaction with the online grocery. A score of 100 would mean all
respondents were completely satisfied; 80 would mean very satisfied, on average; 60, fairly well satisfied. Differences of fewer than 5 points aren’t meaningful.
JULY 2017
CR.ORG
37
hundreds of dollars this
way,” says Jeanette
Pavini, a consumer savings analyst at Quotient,
which is based in Mountain View, Calif., and runs
the shopping app and
website Coupons.com.
How to Save
Tıme & Money
CONSUMER REPORTS
asked experts as well as
our Facebook followers
for their best time- and
money-saving food
shopping tips. Pick a few
of these tactics to try in
the coming weeks; you
could shave up to
40 percent off your bill.
1. Look high and low.
You’ll find the lowercost generic versions of
cereal, cake mixes, paper
goods, and other highturnover staples on the
very lowest and highest
supermarket shelves.
Retailers can charge
manufacturers a fee to
be at eye level.
2. Use discount apps.
Two we like are Ibotta
and Flipp. Both coordinate your store loyalty
cards with current discounts and coupons.
With Flipp, you scan the
app with the market’s
checkout scanner to apply savings at the point
of sale. With Ibotta, you
38
CR.ORG
select rebates in the
app and photograph
your receipts to import
savings to an Ibotta
account. Savings are
transferred to a payment
app, such as PayPal, or
a gift card. “I recently
cashed out for $100 in
Amazon gift cards,” says
Geriann McMurrayMarkwell, an Ibotta user
in Nampa, Idaho. “It took
me about a year but was
totally worth the minimal
effort.” Mary-Ann Johnson of Flagstaff, Ariz.,
says she uses Kroger’s
club card app to get free
products and samples.
Some loyalty programs,
notably Safeway and
Stop & Shop’s, also let
you build rewards toward
gas purchases at affiliated gas stations.
chains, the Flipp app can
do the same.
3. Get navigation help.
Some store loyalty club
apps let you locate items
by aisle, which can help
you avoid crisscrossing
aisles—and avoid more
temptations. At major
5. Ask for a rain check.
When a sale item is sold
out, ask a store employee
for a rain check—a paper
IOU—that you can use
like a coupon when the
item’s in stock. “I’ve saved
4. Keep a calculator
handy. Unit price shelf
stickers under each product can help you compare.
But if the store doesn’t
have the stickers—only
nine states require them—
use your smartphone’s
calculator. Divide the price
by the number of units in
each package you’re comparing. If, say, one soda’s
price is per fluid ounce
and the other’s is per liter,
ask Google how many
ounces are in a liter and
do the conversions. Consumers Union, the advocacy and mobilization
arm of Consumer Reports,
urges supermarkets to put
unit-pricing stickers on
their shelves.
JULY 2017
6. Go with store brands.
CR’s trained tasters have
found store brands with
quality equal—or superior—to that of brandname items, at prices
usually 15 to 30 percent
lower. That’s because
generics are sometimes
made by the same companies that make the
big-brand foods. Trader
Joe’s was a standout for
its store brands in our
survey. In past taste tests
of 57 store brands, we
found that 33 were as
good as or better than
the comparable name
brand, including those in
the product categories
of frozen shrimp, roasted
cashews, cranberry juice
cocktail, ketchup, maple
syrup, mayonnaise, frozen mixed vegetables,
shredded mozzarella,
and vanilla ice cream.
7. Use a cash-back card.
Consumer Reports’ Credit
Card Adviser Comparison
Tool found great potential
savings from the American Express Blue Cash
Preferred card, which
pays back 6 percent on
the first $6,000 in groceries each year, as well as
3 percent on gas and
department-store purchases, and 1 percent on
other purchases. It also
returns $150 if you spend
$1,000 in the first three
months. A user spending
$200 monthly on gas,
$500 on groceries, $100
on department-store
buys, and $300 on other
items would save $583
in the first year of card
ownership and $1,449
in the first three years,
even factoring in the $95
annual fee. To find the
best card for you, go to
CR.org and type “credit
card comparison tool” in
the search bar.
8. Shop at quiet times.
According to a survey by
the Time Use Institute, a
consulting company, the
busiest time on weekdays
is from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
and the least busy is
before 8 a.m. and after
6 p.m. On weekends the
peak shopping time is
from 11 a.m. to noon.
9. Inspect store circulars.
Only 46 percent of millennial shoppers in our
recent survey said they
read store circulars for
weekly sales, compared
with 51 percent of Generation Xers and 63 percent of baby boomers.
Most circulars are online,
making the task of
checking them pretty
painless even for the
digital-first crowd.
10. Embrace coupons.
Find stores that double or
even triple manufacturers’
paper coupons. Certain
retailers do it every day or
week, others less regularly.
In the Northeast, Stop &
Shop doubles manufacturers’ paper coupons
every day. Bi-Lo, in Georgia, North Carolina, and
South Carolina, doubles
coupons with a value of
60 cents or less every day,
unless noted otherwise
at the individual store.
(With both chains, other
restrictions apply.)
11. Do a pantry inventory. Americans throw
away about a quarter
of the food and beverages they buy, at a cost
of up to $2,275 annually
for the average family of
four, says the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Use the free USDA FoodKeeper app for guidelines
on how to store foods.
(Also see our refrigerator
ratings, on page 49.) Or
do as Maggie Pallan, a
professional chef in Las
Vegas, does. She maintains a spreadsheet of
what she has at home, to
avoid buying duplicates.
“I treat my home grocery
shopping the same as my
business,” she says.
12. Get senior discounts.
Several chains, including Bi-Lo, Harris Teeter,
Hy-Vee, and Publix, offer
5 percent discounts, either
on specific days or when
you present a special store
ID card. The Fred Meyer
discount is 10 percent. In
some cases you must be
at least 60 to qualify.
13. Weigh bagged
produce. Prebagged produce is usually cheaper
by the pound than individual pieces. Use the
produce scale to compare
bags because they’re not
uniform in weight. A CR
reporter found 3-pound
bags of red delicious
apples at a Stop & Shop
near our Yonkers headquarters weighing from
3.06 to 3.36 pounds, a
10 percent bonus.
14. Buy in bulk. When
10 cans of your favorite
soup go on sale for $10,
load up. If you don’t have
room to store that many,
check the promotion
wording to see whether
you’re required to buy all
10 for the discount.
15. Track prices. For a
few weeks, record prices
of the items you buy the
most. “You’ll be able
to find the best prices
for specific goods and
can stock up when a true
price drop happens,”
says Terrence Briggs
of Germantown, Md.
Price-tracking also
helps you see when a
“10 packages for $10”
sale really is a sale and
not just a come-on.
16. Find online bargains.
Online services often
waive the delivery fee
or give discounts for
first-time customers.
Even with the delivery
charge, buying online
can help you uncover
savings for certain kinds
of foods, notably snack
bars, specialty diet food,
coffee, and pasta, says
Sam Gagliardi, head
of e-commerce at IRI
Worldwide, a market
research company in
Chicago. Online vendors
such as AmazonFresh
often offer prices up to
half off regional grocery
chains’ prices because
they match Walmart and
warehouse clubs’ national
prices, Gagliardi explains.
17. Shop the drugstore.
Convenience stores,
drugstores, and even gas
station mini-marts can
sometimes beat prices
at traditional markets
for staples such as milk
and eggs. But be mindful
of expiration dates, advises Heidi Chapnick, a
partner at FreshXperts,
a fresh-food retailing
consulting company
in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Food that has outlived
its expiration date can
still be sold, assuming
it is “wholesome and
fit for consumption”
and not dangerous to
consumers, according
to the Food and Drug
Administration.
JULY 2017
18. Beware of prepared
foods. Ready-made
items such as cranberry
couscous, and lemon
orzo with pine nuts can
tempt when you’re in
a rush. But for simple
items—say, sautéed
greens—home prep can
cost about half the price
and take less than half
an hour of work, our
CR food experts say. A
home-prep bonus: fewer
unnecessary ingredients. A 2016 CR report
found that supermarketprepared items might not
be made in the store and
might have preservatives
and excess salt.
19. Look for ‘as is’ items.
The overripe bananas
you’ll find at a discount
could be perfect for
homemade banana
bread. Learn where
stores have their clearance sections, says
Annette Economides,
who with her husband,
Steve, runs the website
MoneySmartFamily.
com. Publix stores,
for instance, place
clearance items on a
dedicated rack.
20. Bring your own bags.
This might make loading take a little longer
but could also save you
money at stores that
charge for bags, as more
and more municipalities
require them to do. You’ll
also help reduce plastic
waste in the environment. See “Shop Like a
Food Safety Expert,” on
page 35, to find out how
to keep permanent shopping bags germ-free.
21. Shop on weekdays.
Certain items are cheaper
on weekdays, when stores
seek to clear inventory,
says Bryan Leach, founder
and CEO of the shopping
app Ibotta. Consumer
data collected through
his app show that beer
is 9 percent cheaper on
Monday and most costly
on Saturday, he says.
Other best days to buy:
Monday for ice cream and
beauty products, Tuesday
for wine, Wednesday for
produce (though it’s only
a 3 percent discount),
Thursday for cleaning
products, and Friday
for snacks. Monday, he
adds, is the most pricey
day for produce.
22. Use your freezer right.
Freezing large quantities
of sale and seasonal food
saves the average family
of four $2,000 per year,
Annette Economides
maintains. “Why pay $4
a pound for blueberries
in winter when you can
thaw the ones you bought
in summer for 99 cents?”
she asks. The Economideses even freeze milk
and cheese. Every 30 to
60 days they check the
freezer and build menus
based on what’s there.
CR.ORG
39
The Supermarket
of the Future
Some innovations have a toehold in
American stores; others are being introduced
first in Europe. It could be five to 10 years
before they are common, but experts believe
it’s a matter of when, not if.
7
6
3
8
4
5
1
2
Easy checkout.
In-store sensors
connected to a smartphone app keep track
of each item you select.
The app runs a tally. It
also cross-checks your
list or selected recipes to
tell you what you forgot.
As you exit, the app
charges your mobilepayment system.
1
40
CR.ORG
Curbside pickup.
Order from
your smartphone or
computer. A staffer
loads your bagged order
directly into your car,
within your chosen time
window. Or you can
request home delivery.
2
Smaller spaces.
Newer stores will
be smaller, with more
space devoted to
fresh produce, as well
as deli and prepared
items, and less space to
interior aisles of branded
package goods.
3
‘How may I help?’
Trained “concierges”
wander aisles like
boutique salespeople,
offering meal-prep ideas
and other suggestions.
As you wander, store
sensors connected to
your smartphone trigger
recommendations, too.
4
Grab and go.
Meal kits, rotisserie
chickens, and other
prepared foods are near
the front, where you
can buy them in a hurry.
Or have whole meals
prepared fresh to order
while you shop.
5
Information provided by Tré Musco, Tesser; and David Donnan, A.T. Kearney.
A feast of
info. Sensors,
detecting that you’ve
picked up an item,
launch a display
showing nutritional
data, possible recipes
and food pairings,
information on where
and how the food was
grown or raised, and
even the farm’s labor
and animal-welfare
practices.
6
Dynamic
spaces. Movable
walls, shelves, and
fixtures can be
configured to create
an area for cooking
demonstrations
and tastings by
day, a casual bistro
by night. Older
markets, removing
interior shelves
permanently, fill the
space with fresh-fare
“grocerants.”
7
Virtual choices.
Rather than
encountering a dozen
brands of Dijon
mustard, you might
find four, plus a screen
you can scroll through
to order one of the
eight other varieties,
which the store keeps
in stock out of sight.
The screen recognizes
your smartphone
and proposes new
products to try. Your
picks are delivered to
you at checkout or
directly to your home.
8
Healthy Shopping
Strategies for Vegans
ABOUT 3.7 MILLION AMERICANS follow a vegan diet, which is
stricter than a vegetarian diet in that it eliminates all animal
products—not just meat, poultry, and fish but also dairy, eggs,
and even honey. A third of the U.S. population says they are
trying to eat less meat. Vegan dining is not de facto healthier for
you, though: Refined grains and grain products, candy, donuts,
and potato chips can all be vegan, and a diet that centers on
such foods can cause weight gain and increase your risk of heart
disease and other health problems. Bearing this in mind, you
can vegan-ize your shopping cart the healthy way with these
five strategies:
Stock up on whole plant
foods. If you’re seeking the
health benefits associated
with a vegan diet, you
should plan menus mostly
consisting of beans, fruits,
vegetables, whole grains,
and nuts. “They’re rich
sources of vitamins, minerals,
fiber, phytochemicals, and
other substances that play
a role in reducing the risk
of chronic diseases like
heart disease, high blood
pressure, some cancers, and
type 2 diabetes,” says Reed
Mangels, Ph.D., R.D., nutrition
lecturer at the University of
Massachusetts Amherst.
Look for vegan claims on
the package. The “Certified
Vegan” logo from the Vegan
Awareness Foundation can be
useful in quickly sussing out
a food—although the absence
of one doesn’t indicate that a
food isn’t vegan. Some foods
you think of as vegan may
not be because they contain
animal-derived ingredients.
For example, fruit smoothies
might contain whey powder
(from dairy) and vegetable
soups might have chicken
broth as a base. Even sugar
isn’t always vegan because
bone char sourced from
cattle might be used to turn
the sugar white. (Organic
sugar is not produced with
bone char.)
Choose meat substitutes
carefully. They aren’t always
as nutritious as the foods
they are meant to replace.
“Many are made with highly
processed ingredients and
can also be high in fat,
sugars, or sodium,” says
Maxine Siegel, R.D., who
oversees the food-testing
lab at Consumer Reports.
“Choose veggie burgers with
at least 3 grams of fiber that
contain vegetables, legumes,
and grains like quinoa and
rice rather than those with
textured soy proteins and
other additives,” she says.
And you don’t need these
foods to get the protein you
need. “Most Americans,
vegans included, get adequate
protein, assuming they eat
a variety of whole foods,”
Mangels says.
JULY 2017
Be wary of fake dairy. If
you pick the right ones, mock
milks can provide protein
and a boost of calcium that
could otherwise be difficult
for vegans to get. Soy milk and
pea protein milk are sources of
protein, and most are fortified
with calcium, vitamin B12,
and vitamin D. To avoid added
sugars, opt for unsweetened
varieties. In CR’s analysis of
Food and Drug Administration
data, we found that rice milk
contains detectable levels of
arsenic. We recommend not
giving rice milk to children
younger than 5 and that older
children be limited to 1½ cups
per week, assuming they eat
no other rice foods. Adults can
have 3 cups per week. Vegan
cheeses might not offer much,
nutritionwise. A quarter cup
of Daiya mozzarella shreds
has only 1 gram of protein and
2 percent of your daily calcium
needs, for example, compared
with around 7 grams of protein
and 20 percent of the calcium
for the same serving of dairy
mozzarella.
Be sure to get vitamin B12.
It’s found naturally only in
animal foods, and you need it
to form red blood cells and for
neurological function. “Vegans
need to have a reliable source
of this essential nutrient,”
Mangels says. A number of
vegan foods are fortified with
it, but if you are sticking to
a diet of mostly whole plant
foods, take a daily supplement.
—Rachel Meltzer-Warren
CR.ORG
41
Ratings Grocery Shopping Satisfaction The highest-rated stores tend to score high in best
prices and staff courtesy. Online subscribers can find the chart online and reorder the
grocer list using multiple criteria, including region, at CR.org/groceryratings0717.
Reader
Score
85
Military Commissary
85
Festival Foods (WI)
84
Stater Bros.
84
H-E-B
84
Sprouts Farmers Market
83
WinCo
83
Aldi
83
Dierbergs
83
Mariano’s
82
Woodman’s
82
Hy-Vee
82
Raley’s
82
Fry’s
81
Fred Meyer
81
Dillons
81
King Soopers
81
Harris Teeter
81
Smith’s Food & Drug
79
Lowes Foods (NC, SC, VA)
79
QFC (QUALITY FOOD CENTERS)
79
Meijer
79
Hannaford
78
Ingles
78
Whole Foods Market
78
Kroger
78
BJ’s Wholesale Club
78
Schnucks
78
Save Mart Supermarkets
78
42
CR.ORG
Local
Produce
Quantity
Costco
Prices of
Organic
Options
85
Selection of
Healthy
Options
Fareway Stores
Store-Brand
Quality
86
Meat/Poultry
Quality
Publix
Produce
Variety
86
Produce
Quality
Trader Joe’s
Checkout
Speed
86
Staff
Courtesy
Market Basket (NORTHEAST)
Fresh StorePrepared
Foods
89
Competitive
Prices
Wegmans
Survey Results
Store
Cleanliness
Store
0
5
4
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
5
0
5
0
3
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
0
4
5
0
5
0
2
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
2
0
3
0
5
0
2
0
2
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
1
0
3
0
4
0
2
0
2
0
0
5
4
0
3
0
5
0
3
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
1
0
5
0
5
0
1
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
0
5
4
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
3
0
3
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
2
0
4
0
4
0
0
5
4
0
4
0
4
0
5
0
2
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
2
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
1
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
0
5
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
2
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
0
5
4
0
2
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
2
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
2
0
4
0
3
0
0
5
3
0
3
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
2
0
2
0
4
0
4
0
2
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
5
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
0
4
4
0
5
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
0
5
4
0
5
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
5
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
5
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
0
3
4
0
4
0
2
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
2
0
3
0
4
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
0
5
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
1
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
2
0
1
0
5
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
2
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
2
0
1
0
3
0
3
0
JULY 2017
1 2 3 4 5
WORSE
Reader
Score
75
Weis
75
IGA
75
Cub Foods
75
Target/SuperTarget
75
Food Lion
74
Bi-Lo (GA, NC, SC)
74
Albertsons
73
Lucky (CA)
73
Vons
73
Price Chopper (NORTHEAST)
73
Giant Eagle
73
Winn-Dixie
73
Martin’s (MD, PA, VA, WV)
73
Giant (WASHINGTON, DC; DE; MD; VA) 72
Jewel-Osco
72
Pick ’n Save
71
Safeway
71
Acme
70
Stop & Shop
69
Shaw’s
68
Tops Friendly Markets
68
Walmart Supercenter
66
HOW WE SURVEY: A total of
57,805 Consumer Reports subscribers
completed the 2016 Supermarkets
Survey. Grocery store ratings are based
on 50,218 responses, reflecting readers’
93,447 shopping trips to supermarkets,
supercenters, and warehouses between
July 2015 and September 2016. Stores
Local
Produce
Quantity
Giant (PA)
Prices of
Organic
Options
76
Selection of
Healthy
Options
Sam’s Club
Store-Brand
Quality
77
Meat/Poultry
Quality
Ralphs
Produce
Variety
77
Produce
Quality
Big Y
Checkout
Speed
77
Staff
Courtesy
Food City (GA, KY, TN, VA)
Fresh StorePrepared
Foods
78
Competitive
Prices
ShopRite
Survey Results
Store
Cleanliness
Store
BETTER
0
3
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
1
0
0
4
3
0
2
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
1
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
2
0
1
0
2
0
4
0
0
3
3
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
0
3
4
0
4
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
1
0
0
2
4
0
3
0
3
0
1
0
2
0
3
0
4
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
2
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
0
2
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
1
0
0
3
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
0
3
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
1
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
0
3
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
0
3
3
0
4
0
3
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
0
2
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
2
0
0
3
4
0
3
0
3
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
1
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
2
0
1
0
are ranked based on Reader Score,
which reflects overall satisfaction
with shopping experience, based on
respondents’ survey answers. A score of
100 would mean all respondents were
completely satisfied; 80 would mean
very satisfied, on average; 60, fairly
well satisfied. Differences of fewer than
4 points are not meaningful. Scores for
Store Cleanliness, Competitive Prices,
Fresh Store-Prepared Foods, Staff
Courtesy, Checkout Speed, Produce
Quality, Produce Variety, Meat/Poultry
Quality, Store-Brand Quality, Selection
JULY 2017
of Healthy Options, Prices of Organic
Options and Local Produce Quantity
are relative and reflect averages on
a scale from completely satisfied to
completely dissatisfied. Results don’t
necessarily mirror the experiences of
the general population.
CR.ORG
43
The CR Guide to
Smarter
Remodeling
General contractors, industry experts, and real people
who’ve been there share proven strategies for
coming in under budget, on time—and overjoyed.
by Paul Hope
AMERICAN HOMEOWNERS spend upward of $30 billion
per year renovating kitchens and bathrooms, according
to a 2013 survey from Harvard University’s Joint Center for
Housing Studies. That’s more than all the other rooms in the
house combined. The outsized investment in these rooms
tends to pay off: Per the National Association of Realtors, remodelers report the biggest boost to satisfaction and happiness
with their homes after wrapping up a kitchen or bath overhaul.
But it takes some doing to get there. These are complex rooms
outfitted with fixtures and appliances that can get expensive,
44
CR.ORG
put together by the most skilled pros in the industry. Given
the stakes, in 2016 Consumer Reports conducted a nationally
representative survey of 1,012 homeowners who had tackled a
kitchen or bath in the previous four years, to learn what they
did right and what they wish they’d done differently.
The secret to getting the space that works perfectly for you
without blowing your budget? Plan ahead before you spend
serious money. Work on the room’s design until it’s exactly
right and do enough research to know when it’s smart to splurge
on materials and appliances—and when you should save.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY PATRICK HRUBY
HOW TO STAY ON SCHEDULE
IN OUR SURVEY, 29 percent of remodelers acknowledged that
their renovations took longer than they anticipated. Don’t expect
a consensus on who shoulders the blame. Homeowners might
quickly point the finger at their contractors, but in a nationwide
survey Consumer Reports conducted in late 2015, 60 percent
of general contractors said the biggest mistake they saw clients
make was changing their mind midconstruction. That can easily
derail your project, as can structural concerns, permit problems,
and materials that arrive damaged or broken, all of which were
cited by contractors as primary reasons for delays. Anticipate
these common problem areas and help keep your project on track.
1. Look out for
structural problems.
FORTY-TWO percent of
contractors we surveyed
called out unforeseen
structural damage as
the leading reason they
fall behind schedule.
But these problems don’t
need to be a surprise.
Contractors can view
your project through
its narrow lens, but a
home inspector will look
at the bigger picture
and shed light on how
changes might affect
complex household
systems. “Most people
only think of having
an inspection when
they buy or sell a
home,” says Frank
Lesh of the American
Society of Home
Inspectors. “But
inspectors can actually
be helpful throughout
the remodeling process.”
You could find out if,
say, low water pressure
means you’ll never be
thrilled with a pricey
multijet rain shower or
if you’ll have to upgrade
a kitchen circuit to power
an induction range.
2. Come up with
a plan for permits.
NEWS FLASH: As a
homeowner, it’s your
job to secure the proper
paperwork. Plenty of
contractors will get
permits on your behalf,
but the trick is to make
clear, from day one,
who will take on the
responsibility. If your
contractor charges
you for obtaining
permits, consider a DIY
approach—you don’t
want to spend $100 per
hour for him to wait in
line. (And regardless of
who takes charge, mark
important inspection
dates on a calendar at
your work site so that
everyone’s aware.)
In certain urban areas,
obtaining permits is
so cumbersome that
specialists called permit
expediters have emerged
to tackle the process
for a fee. Certain cities
keep lists of approved
expediters at the building
department. And hiring
one brings a serious
advantage: Their sole
focus is to keep clients’
projects moving along.
3. Shop locally, even
if it means spending more.
ALMOST ONE-THIRD of contractors
reported that they’d been delayed
on a job because materials arrived
damaged (or manufacturers shipped
the wrong stuff). Avoid this common
pitfall by shopping locally, even from
a chain retailer, whenever possible.
“Paying a little more to buy materials
and finishes in your area is like
adding a layer of insurance to your
project,” says Courtney Ludeman,
whose design-build firm, based in
Richmond, Va., has faced countless
problems with floor tile, sinks, and
the like ordered on the internet.
JULY 2017
“It’s fine to snag a light fixture or
door pulls in an online flash sale,
but for cabinetry I use a local
cabinetmaker. If there’s an issue,
he’s back at the house in a few
days finishing the job.” Though
custom cabinets might sound wildly
expensive, Ludeman says that’s
becoming an outdated notion. Some
independent pros now use computer
programs to generate a cut list after
they’ve measured. “That lets them
keep costs competitive with premium
mass-market brands and outfit a
large kitchen in two weeks,” she says.
CR.ORG
45
CUT COSTS IN THE KITCHEN, BUT SACRIFICE
NOTHING IN PERFORMANCE & STYLE
Speed is of the essence when you’re upgrading your kitchen, considering that you’re likely
to be spending more money on takeout and dinners out during the renovation.
Almost two-thirds of homeowners in our survey reported that their project took longer than
a month. Minimize downtime with an efficient, streamlined remodel.
Design
TO LIMIT COSTS, leave the layout alone. If that
won’t do, consider moving only the fridge
because it requires just a standard 120-volt
outlet (and access to a cold-water supply line
if it has an icemaker). Moving a range requires
altering gas and/or electric lines, which adds
a day or two of labor from an electrician, a
plumber, or both—at anywhere from $45 to
$145 per hour apiece. Likewise, moving a sink
requires a day’s worth of plumbing work.
Don’t skimp on cabinet quality. Remodelers
in our survey said cabinetry was a top spot
where they wished they’d spent more. To
make room in the budget for high-quality
cabinets, skip the uppers altogether and use
open shelving to showcase pretty items.
If you’re adding an island, work in any
storage space you’ve lost to stash anything
you don’t want on display. “Go as big as you’d
like on an island,” says designer Courtney
Ludeman. “But leave 36 inches all around for
clearance, or 42 to 48 inches if two people
frequently cook together.”
Materials
BEFORE KNOCKING down
a wall to create an
open-concept kitchen,
consider how you’ll
marry the flooring in the
two spaces. To extend
hardwood throughout,
install unfinished planks
parallel to the old, and
either get a pro to match
the existing finish or have
him sand the old boards
and stain everything at
once—about $3.50 to
$4 per square foot.
If your kitchen will stay
sealed off, “porcelain tile
is probably your best
bet,” says Joan Muratore,
CR’s test engineer for
flooring. “It’s excellent at
resisting stains, dents, or
scratches. And it holds up
well under heavy foot
traffic.” You’ll find options
from about $3.60 per
square foot, plus $1,200
or so for installation.
When it comes to
counters, granite and
quartz top our tests,
thanks to their ability
to resist staining and
stand up to abrasion
and heat. Installing
these workhorses in the
average kitchen could
save between $500 and
$1,000 over higher-end
marble or soapstone.
Pass on trendy design
touches such as a
waterfall edge, which
wraps the exposed side
of a cabinet—in materials
alone that touch adds
upward of $1,000 to
countertop costs. Got
marble taste on a
laminate budget? Splurge
on a single slab and
install it on the island,
then use adjacent
complementary laminate
to cover the remaining
countertops.
you long for that built-in
look, turn to slide-in
ranges and cabinet-depth
refrigerators. Both blend
nicely into the surrounding
cabinetry.
You can earn a discount
by buying matching
appliances in a package.
Select a suite with a
stellar range—there’s no
fix for an oven with hot
spots, but you can learn
to live with an imperfect
microwave. For the very
best performance, our
experts advise mixing and
matching brands (see our
ratings, on page 48). And
opting for a range, rather
than a separate oven
and cooktop, is by far the
most cost-effective route:
Take our highly rated
Frigidaire Gallery electric
range, which comes in at
$650, a full $1,000 below
the combined cost of a
comparable Frigidaire
cooktop and wall oven.
Appliances
OUR TESTING reveals that
you can skip pro-style
appliances. ”You’ll pay
$15,000 to $20,000
on a full kitchen suite,
when $5,000 would get
you better-performing
models from massmarket brands,” says
Tara Casaregola, CR’s
46
CR.ORG
kitchen test engineer.
Adam DeSanctis of the
National Association of
Realtors adds that “prostyle appliances won’t
necessarily boost the
resale value of your home,
beyond the bump you’d
get from having any new
appliances in place.” If
JULY 2017
BUILD A BATHROOM THAT’S BEAUTIFUL
YET WON’T BREAK THE BANK
Bathrooms are where we go to pamper ourselves, which explains why 36 percent
of remodelers in our survey wish they had splurged on tubs and showers,
flooring, or tile work. Be smart about where to save—so you can indulge in fixtures
and finishes you’ll love for the long haul.
Materials
Design
AS WITH KITCHEN renovations, the biggest costs
come when you relocate important fixtures.
Moving toilets, sinks, and showers requires
that workers tear out subfloors and walls to
access pipes. “Moving the toilet just 1 foot can
cost $1,000,” says Robert Degni, a contractor
in New York City. If you only need a slight
shift—because, say, you’re hoping to squeeze
in a double vanity—Degni suggests using an
offset flange, a $10 fix that allows you to move
the toilet a few precious inches in any direction
without extensive plumbing work.
One extravagant addition that doesn’t have
to break the bank? Heated floors. Just make
this call early and know that it might affect
your flooring options. Installing electric radiantheat mats, rather than hydronic (water-filled)
lines, can save up to $8,000. But unlike most
hydronic systems, underfloor mats aren’t
compatible with all solid hardwood. Adding
radiant electric heat costs roughly $11 per
square foot of open flooring. Plan on an hour
of labor for an electrician to connect the mats
and thermostat to a circuit.
BEFORE YOU begin
shopping for tile, you’ll
want to familiarize yourself
with the lingo you’ll find
on the packaging labels.
Make sure any tile you’re
considering for flooring is
available in grade 1 or 2,
the most durable. (Grade 3,
which tends to be thinner,
is suitable only for walls.)
Water absorption is another
important spec—the lower
the number, the less water
can seep through. For
flooring you want tile with a
rating of less than 7 percent,
and 3 percent or less for
shower floors. Next, note
the coefficient of friction
rating, which conveys slip
resistance; you’ll need a
COF of 0.60 or higher for
floor tile. “If you want wood
floors, prefinished options
hold up to water well in our
tests, but save it for a half
bath,” says CR flooring test
engineer Joan Muratore.
“For full bathrooms, where
flooring can become soaked
by water from the shower,
tile is still preferable.” Woodlook porcelain options
provide the look and wear
better, too.
As for the ceiling and
walls, don’t waste money
on bath-specific paint. Our
testing reveals that any
paint with good scores in
mildew resistance, such as
Behr Premium Plus enamel,
hold up well. At $28 per
gallon, it’s over $40 less per
can than premium bathspecific paints. Choose
satin finish, or semigloss if
you don’t mind the sheen—
either will withstand
periodic scrubbings.
Fixtures
IF YOU HAVE a dingy cast-iron tub, reglazing
the surface can give it new life for a few
hundred dollars. Replacing it with a soaker
tub could cost $500 to $1,000 for the tub
itself, plus hundreds more for installation. No
space for a separate tub and shower? Don’t
blow out a wall for the sake of keeping both.
Go ahead and install that stand-alone shower
in the master suite, but if and when you put
the house on the market, having at least one
tub is important for resale value.
“Double vanities are all but essential now,”
Ludeman says. “Put one to work in master
suites or Jack-and-Jill baths for kids.” These
double units tend to run up to $500 more
than single vanities, though the cost of
installing the larger fixture is only slightly
higher. In tighter quarters, consider a wide
trough sink and two wall-mounted faucets.
Don’t get too caught up with toilet
features—look to our ratings, on page 50. A
toilet that flushes well will pay for itself if it
spares you the need to call a plumber even
once to free a clog, says John Banta, CR’s
test engineer for toilets. Unless you opt for a
space-saving wall-mounted toilet, pass on
dual-flush models, none of which performed
well in our tests. Plus, most new toilets use
just more than 1 gallon per flush.
Ratings The Right Picks for Your Remodel Use our ratings to trick out your new kitchen or bathroom with
appliances and fixtures that offer superior performance—and hold up well in these hardworking spaces.
TOP-RATED ELECTRIC AND GAS RANGES
Overall
Score
0
5
4
0
5
0
3
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
3
0
4
0
0
4
4
0
5
0
0
5
5
0
5
0
0
4
4
0
4
0
0
5
5
0
4
0
0
4
5
0
5
0
0
5
4
0
4
0
0
5
5
0
4
0
5
0
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
0
4
4
0
4
0
4
0
0
4
5
0
5
0
5
0
0
4
5
0
4
0
3
0
0
5
5
0
5
0
3
0
0
4
4
0
4
0
4
0
0
5
5
0
4
0
4
0
0
5
5
0
4
0
4
0
0
4
3
0
3
0
3
0
0
4
4
0
4
0
4
0
0
4
3
0
5
0
5
0
0
4
4
0
4
0
0
5
4
0
5
0
0
4
4
0
4
0
0
5
3
0
4
0
0
4
4
0
5
0
0
3
4
0
3
0
0
4
3
0
0
5
4
0
0
4
4
0
0
3
4
0
0
3
3
0
0
4
2
0
0
4
3
0
0
5
5
0
0
4
4
0
0
4
3
0
0
4
4
0
0
4
4
0
Convection
Mode
0
4
5
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
Low-Power
Elements
0
4
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
Medium-Power
Elements
Self-Cleaning
0
5
4
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
High-Power
Elements
Oven Capacity
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
Number of
Cooktop
Burners
Broiling
0
5
5
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
Warming
Drawer
Baking
Features
Cooktop Low
Test Results
Cooktop High
Price
Rank
Rec.
Brand & Model
0
4
2
0
2
0
4
2
0
2
0
4
2
0
2
0
5
1
2
2
0
4
2
1
1
0
4
2
0
2
0
4
2
0
2
0
4
1
2
1
0
4
2
0
2
0
4
2
0
2
0
0
4
1
2
1
0
0
4
1
2
1
0
4
2
0
2
0
4
2
1
1
0
4
2
1
1
0
0
4
3
1
0
0
0
4
2
2
0
0
0
5
2
2
1
0
0
5
1
3
1
0
5
2
2
1
5
2
2
1
0
5
2
2
1
0
5
2
2
1
0
5
2
2
1
0
4
3
0
1
0
4
3
1
0
0
4
3
0
1
0
4
4
0
0
0
SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE-OVEN (30-INCH)
0
!
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
1
Kenmore 95052
$1,000
87
2
LG LRE3083SW
$855
86
3
Frigidaire Gallery FGEF3035RF
$650
86
4
GE Café CS980STSS
$2,550
86
5
Kenmore Pro 92583
$1,950
85
6
GE Profile PB911SJSS
$990
85
7
Samsung NE58F9500SS
$1,300
83
8
GE PS920SFSS
$1,965
83
9
LG LSE4613ST
$1,900
82
10
Whirlpool WFE905C0ES
$630
81
0
0
SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE-OVEN (30-INCH)
0
!
!
0
!
0
1
Samsung NE58F9710WS
$1,800
85
2
Samsung NE59J7850WS
$1,300
82
3
LG LDE4415ST
$1,400
81
ELECTRIC INDUCTION
0
!
!
0
!
0
!
0
1
Kenmore 95073
$1,700
89
2
Kenmore 95103
$1,400
88
3
Samsung NE58H9970WS
$3,400
86
4
Bosch HIIP054U
$3,200
81
GAS, SINGLE-OVEN (30-INCH)
0
!
!
0
!
0
!
0
1
Samsung NX58F5700WS
$1,530
79
2
GE PGS920SEFSS
$2,435
73
3
Kenmore 74132
$705
71
4
Frigidaire Gallery FGGF3058RF
$945
69
GAS AND DUAL-FUEL, DOUBLE-OVEN (30-INCH)
0
!
!
0
!
0
$3,010
79
LG LDG4315ST
$1,500
73
GE PGB980ZEJSS
$2,200
73
1
Samsung NY58J9850WS
2
3
0
PRO-STYLE DUAL-FUEL (30-INCH)
!
0
1
KitchenAid KDRS407VSS
$4,140
72
2
Wolf DF304
$6,400
68
PRO-STYLE DUAL-FUEL (36-INCH)
0
!
!
0
48
1
KitchenAid KDRU763VSS
$7,300
74
2
GE Monogram ZDP364NDPSS
$7,600
72
CR.ORG
JULY 2017
1 2 3 4 5
POOR
$
STANDOUT, STYLISH REFRIGERATORS
Exterior
Height (In.)
Exterior Width
(In.)
Exterior Depth
(In.)
Water
Dispenser
0
4
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
3
0
4
0
Freezer Usable
Capacity
(Cu. Ft.)
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
Fridge Usable
Capacity
(Cu. Ft.)
Ease of Use
0
4
4
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
3
0
4
0
Total Usable
Capacity
(Cu. Ft.)
Noise
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
Energy
Cost/Yr.
Energy
Efficiency
Features
Temperature
Uniformity
Test Results
!
RECOMMENDED
$95
20.9
14.2
6.7
69
36
34
Ext.
$85
20.0
13.3
6.7
69
36
34
Ext.
$58
17.4
12.6
4.8
69
33
33
$95
21.5
15.4
6.1
69
36
36
Ext.
$92
19.5
13.0
6.5
69
36
34
Ext.
$81
20.9
14.7
6.2
70
36
34
Ext.
$73
15.4
11.1
4.3
68
30
33
$94
21.6
15.9
5.7
70
36
37
Ext.
$90
19.5
13.1
6.4
70
36
34
Ext.
$82
15.1
10.1
5.0
70
36
30
Ext.
0
$93
15.3
11.4
3.9
71
36
29
0
0
$93
15.3
11.4
3.9
71
36
29
0
0
$77
14.8
10.2
4.6
71
32
30
$74
16.0
11.1
4.9
69
36
29
Int.
0
$70
21.1
15.4
5.7
69
36
36
Ext.
$88
15.8
9.8
6.0
72
36
29
Ext.
$97
20.4
11.8
8.6
71
36
35
Ext.
$92
17.0
11.9
5.1
70
36
33
Ext.
Cabinet-Depth
Model
Overall
Score
Price
Rank
Rec.
Brand & Model
EXCELLENT
CR BEST BUY THREE-DOOR FRENCH-DOOR
0
!
!
0
$
0
!
0
1
LG LFXS32766S
$3,510
87
2
Samsung RF28HDEDPWW
$2,430
86
3
LG LFC24770ST
$1,710
85
4
Kenmore Elite 74093
$2,700
85
5
Kenmore Elite 73153
$2,200
84
6
GE GNE29GSKSS
$2,000
83
7
LG LFC22770ST
$1,620
83
8
Whirlpool WRF995FIFZ
$3,420
82
9
GE GFE28GSKSS
$2,520
81
10
GE Café CYE22TSHSS
$3,100
81
11
KitchenAid KRFC704FBS
$3,870
80
12
Jenn-Air JFFCC72EFS
$4,400
80
13
Samsung RF20HFENBSR
$1,350
79
14
GE Profile PWE23KMKES
$2,600
79
FOUR-DOOR FRENCH-DOOR
0
!
!
0
$
0
1
LG LMXS30746S
$3,330
84
2
Samsung RF22K9381SR
$3,000
82
3
Samsung RF28K9070SR
$2,600
82
0 5
5
0 0
5 0
4
5 0
0
3 5
0 0
4
4 0
0
4 0
5 4
0
0
SIDE-BY-SIDE
0
!
!
0
$
0
!
0
!
0
1
GE Profile PSS28KSHSS
$2,200
79
2
Samsung RS25H5121SR
$1,620
78
3
Samsung RS25J500DSR
$1,095
78
4
Samsung RH25H5611SR
$1,500
75
5
LG LSXS26366S
$1,500
75
0
4
4
0
5
0
3
0
4
0
0
4
4
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
0
5
4
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
$79
18.6
11.8
6.8
69
36
34
Ext.
$86
18.5
12.3
6.2
69
36
34
Ext.
$79
19.0
12.0
7.0
70
36
35
Ext.
$89
20.7
13.8
6.9
69
36
34
Ext.
$56
13.8
9.2
4.6
84
36
25
0
$72
14.1
10.6
3.5
83
36
25
0
$48
12.2
8.6
3.6
84
30
25
0
$58
17.0
13.0
4.0
83
42
26
0
$76
14.5
10.4
4.1
84
36
26
0
BUILT-IN
!
0
0
!
!
0
1
Thermador Freedom
Collection T36BT810NS
$8,000
83
5 0
0
4 0
5 0
4
2
Miele MasterCool KF1903SF
$8,600
83
4
Bosch Integra B30BB830SS
$6,500
81
5
Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE
$8,500
80
6
GE Monogram ZICP360NHRH
$7,100
79
0
5
4
0
4
0
4
0
0
3
4
0
5
0
4
0
JULY 2017
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
0
4
4
0
3
0
4
0
CR.ORG
49
Ratings BEST ALL-AROUND DISHWASHERS
0
0
0
0
145
0
0
0
110
0
0
0
115
0
0
0
Stainless/SSLook Option
125
Interior
Material
0
4
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
Self-Cleaning
Filter
0
4
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
Sensor
Ease of Use
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
Adjustable
Upper Rack
Noise
0
5
3
0
3
0
3
0
4
0
3
0
5
0
3
0
3
0
Ample
Flatware Slots
Energy Use
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
Cycle Time
(Min.)
Drying
Features
Washing
Test Results
Hidden
Controls
Overall
Score
Price
Rank
Rec.
Brand & Model
CONVENTIONAL DISHWASHERS
0
!
!
0
!
0
!
0
$
0
$955
85
$1,200
85
KitchenAid KDTM704ESS
$1,620
83
Kenmore Elite 14833
$1,500
82
1
KitchenAid KDTM354DSS
2
Kenmore Elite 12793
3
4
5
Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC
$630
81
6
GE Profile PDF820SSJSS
$905
80
7
Thermador Topaz Series
DWHD640JFM
$1,500
80
8
KitchenAid KDTE254ESS
$990
80
9
Kenmore Elite 14753
$800
80
Some Stainless Steel
0
Some Stainless Steel
0
0
Some Stainless Steel
0
0
Some Stainless Steel
0
95
0
0
0
All
Stainless Steel/
Plastic
150
0
0
0
No
Stainless Steel
0
0
125
0
0
0
All
Stainless Steel
0
145
0
0
0
Some Stainless Steel
0
145
0
0
0
Some Stainless Steel
0
TOILETS THAT WON’T GIVE YOU TROUBLE
Overall
Score
Resists
Drainline
Clogs
Comfort
Height
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
Resists
Soil and
Odor
0
4
1
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
Gallons
per Flush
0
5
5
0
4
0
4
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
4
0
Type
Bowl
Cleaning
Features
Noise
Test Results
Solid
Waste
Removal
Price
Rank
Rec.
Brand & Model
Gravity
1.28
0
0
0
Pressure
1.40
0
0
0
Gravity
1.28
0
0
0
Gravity
1.60
0
0
0
Gravity
1.60
0
0
0
Gravity
1.60
0
0
Gravity
1.28
0
Gravity
1.28
Gravity
1.28
0
0
Gravity
1.28
0
0
0
SINGLE-FLUSH TOILETS
0
!
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
$
0
!
0
1
St. Thomas Creations Richmond
Eco (6123.218, 6125.028) ⁄
$350
78
2
Kohler Highline Classic K-3493
$425
76
3
American Standard Champion
4 Max 2586.128ST.020 ⁄
$240
75
4
Zurn Z5551-K
$250
75
5
Kohler Kelston K-3754
$275
74
6
Toto Drake CST744S €
$250
74
7
American Standard Acticlean
714AA151.020 ⁄
$400
71
8
Delta Turner C43908-WH ⁄
$170
70
9
Delta Prelude C43901-WH ⁄
$150
70
10
Gerber Avalanche WS-21-818
$400
70
0
0
WALL-MOUNTED TOILETS (DUAL-FLUSH)
!
0
1
Toto Aquia CT418FG#01; In-Wall Tank:
Toto DuoFit WT151M/WT152M
$600
79
5
0
4
0
5
0
Gravity
1.60/0.9
!
0
2
Duravit Starck 3 2226090092; In-Wall
Tank: Geberit 111.335.00.5 UP3 20
$700
75
4
0
5
0
5
0
Gravity
!
0
3
Kohler Veil K-6299;
In-Wall Tank: Kohler K-6284-NA
$800
73
4
0
4
0
5
0
Gravity
0
0
1.6/0.8
0
0
1.6/0.8
0
0
⁄Model is WaterSense-certified (1.28 gallons per flush or less, on average). €Regular height (seat less than 17 inches high); most others are comfort height (compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act).
50
CR.ORG
JULY 2017
1 2 3 4 5
POOR
$
COUNTERTOP MATERIALS ON THE MARKET
Overall
Score
!
RECOMMENDED
Cutting
Abrasion
Heat
Impact
Test Results
Stains
Price
Rank
Material
EXCELLENT
CR BEST BUY 0
4
4
0
3
0
5
0
2
0
5
0
4
0
3
0
1
0
5
0
3
0
5
0
1
0
1
0
2
0
1
0
0
5
5
0
5
0
2
0
5
0
5
0
2
0
1
0
3
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
0
5
5
0
5
0
3
0
4
0
4
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
3
0
2
0
1
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
3
0
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
5
0
2
0
5
0
1
0
5
0
4
0
2
0
1
0
0
2
2
0
1
0
4
0
3
0
2
0
4
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
KITCHEN
1
Quartz (engineered stone)
$20-$60
84
2
Granite
$20-$60
81
3
Recycled Glass (penetrating sealer) ⁄
$25-$100
69
4
Laminate
$5-$25
68
5
Tile (ceramic and porcelain)
$5-$20
67
6
Ultracompact (Dekton) €
$50-$100
63
7
Solid Surfacing
$15-$50
53
8
Soapstone (mineral oil finish)
$20-$70
46
9
Concrete (penetrating sealer)
$25-$75
40
10
Concrete (topical sealer)
$25-$75
39
11
Stainless Steel
$20-$60
39
12
Butcher Block (varnished)
$20-$60
37
13
Limestone
$25-$75
27
14
Butcher Block (oil finish)
$20-$60
24
15
Marble
$25-$75
14
16
Bamboo (beeswax/mineral oil finish)
$20-$60
10
$5-$25
77
BATHROOM
1
Laminate
2
Quartz (engineered stone)
$20-$60
74
3
Ultracompact (Dekton) ‹
$50-$100
73
4
Granite
$20-$60
72
5
Solid Surfacing
$15-$50
59
6
Recycled Glass (penetrating sealer)
$25-$100
53
7
Concrete (topical sealer)
$25-$100
51
8
Tile (ceramic and porcelain)
$5-$15
45
9
Soapstone (mineral oil finish)
$20-$70
45
10
Stainless Steel
$20-$60
41
11
Concrete (penetrating sealer)
$25-$100
28
$20-$70
22
$25-$100
17
12
Limestone
13
Marble
0
5
4
0
5
0
4
0
4
0
2
0
5
0
1
0
3
0
3
0
1
0
1
0
2
0
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
0
3
5
0
4
0
5
0
2
0
5
0
3
0
4
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
2
0
1
0
0
5
5
0
5
0
5
0
4
0
5
0
2
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
5
0
2
0
0
4
2
0
2
0
2
0
4
0
1
0
1
0
3
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
For more ratings, as well as information on how we test, subscribers to our website can go to CR.org.
⁄Unlike other brands, Cosentino’s Eco line of recycled counters developed a thin crack during our heat tests and was excluded from the ratings. The other recycled-glass products tested were 3 centimeters thick.
€Cosentino’s Dekton was tested. In our impact tests, pieces of the edges chipped off, and the Dekton cracked into two pieces on samples that were the manufacturer-recommended thickness of 2 centimeters.
‹Cosentino’s Dekton was tested. In our impact tests, pieces of the edges chipped off on samples that were the manufacturer-recommended thickness of 2 cm.
CR.ORG
51
A World
Apart
A joint investigation by Consumer Reports
and ProPublica finds that consumers in
some minority neighborhoods are charged
as much as 30 percent more on average for
car insurance than in other neighborhoods
with similar accident-related costs.
What’s really going on?
By Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Lauren Kirchner,
and Surya Mattu of ProPublica
52
CR.ORG
STICKER SHOCK
Pernell Cox, who lives in an area
known as the “Black Beverly Hills,”
learned that Safeco, his insurer,
was charging 13 percent more
in his neighborhood than in a similar
white neighborhood.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KENDRICK BRINSON FOR PROPUBLICA
OTIS NASH WORKS six days a week
at two jobs, as a security guard and
a pest control technician, but still
struggles to make the $190.69 monthly
Geico car insurance payment for his
2012 Honda Civic LX.
“I’m on the edge of homelessness,”
said Nash, a 26-year-old Chicagoan who
supports his wife and 7-year-old daughter. But “without a car, I can’t get to
work, and then I can’t pay my rent.”
Across town, Ryan Hedges has a similar insurance policy with Geico. Both
drivers receive a good-driver discount
from the company.
Yet Hedges, who is a 34-year-old advertising executive, pays only $54.67
a month to insure his 2015 Audi Q5
Quattro sports utility vehicle. Nash
pays almost four times as much as
Hedges even though Nash’s run-down
neighborhood, East Garfield Park, with
its vacant lots and high crime rate, is
actually safer from an auto insurance
perspective than Hedges’ fancier Lake
View neighborhood near Wrigley Field.
On average, from 2012 through 2014,
Illinois insurers paid out 20 percent less
for bodily injury and property damage
claims in Nash’s predominantly minority ZIP code than in Hedges’ largely
white one, according to data collected
by the state’s insurance commission. But
Nash pays 51 percent more for that portion of his coverage than Hedges does.
For decades, auto insurers have been
observed to charge higher average
premiums to drivers living in predominantly minority urban neighborhoods
than to drivers with similar safety
CR.ORG
53
records living in majority-white neighborhoods. Insurers have long defended
their pricing by saying that the risk of
accidents is greater in those neighborhoods, even for motorists who have
never had one.
But a first-of-its-kind analysis by
ProPublica and Consumer Reports,
which examined auto insurance
premiums and payouts in California,
Illinois, Texas, and Missouri, has found
that many of the disparities in auto
insurance prices between minority
and white neighborhoods are wider
than differences in risk can explain. In
some cases, insurers such as Allstate,
Geico, and Liberty Mutual were charging premiums that were on average
30 percent higher in ZIP codes where
most residents are minorities than in
whiter neighborhoods with similar
accident costs. (To read a full description of the analysis, go to propub.li/
car-insurance-methodology.)
Our findings document what consumer advocates have long suspected:
Despite laws in almost every state
banning discriminatory rate setting,
some minority neighborhoods pay
higher auto insurance premiums than
do white areas with similar payouts on
claims. This disparity may amount to
a subtler form of redlining, a term that
traditionally refers to denial of services
LEARN
Go to CR.org/carinsurance
investigation to watch videos of
Pernell Cox and Otis Nash telling
their stories. On that page, you
can also access a digital tool that
allows drivers in the four states
we analyzed—California, Illinois,
Missouri, and Texas—to compare
premiums in their ZIP code with
another ZIP code with a similar
risk to see the differences. For car
insurance ratings and shopping
advice, CRO subscribers can go to
CR.org/car-insurance-ratings.
54
CR.ORG
In a fırst-of-its-kind
analysis, we found that
many of the disparities
in auto insurance prices
between minority and
white neighborhoods
are wider than
differences in risk
can explain.
or products to minority areas. And,
since minorities tend to lag behind
whites in income, they may be hardpressed to afford the higher payments.
Rachel Goodman, staff attorney in
the American Civil Liberties Union’s
racial justice program, said ProPublica’s
findings are distressingly familiar.
“These results fit within a pattern that
we see all too often—racial disparities
allegedly result from differences in risk,
but that justification falls apart when
we drill down into the data,” she said.
“We already know that ZIP code matters far too much in our segregated
society,” Goodman said. “It is dispiriting to see that, in addition to limiting
economic opportunity, living in the
wrong ZIP code can mean that you pay
more for car insurance regardless of
whether you and your neighbors are
safe drivers.”
The Insurance Information Institute,
a trade group representing many insurers, contested ProPublica’s findings.
“Insurance companies do not collect
any information regarding the race or
ethnicity of the people they sell policies
to. They do not discriminate on the basis
of race,” said James Lynch, chief actuary
of the institute.
The impact of the disparity in
insurance prices can be devastating, a
roadblock to upward mobility or even
getting by. Auto insurance coverage is
required by law in almost all states. If a
driver can’t pay for insurance, she can
face fines for driving without insurance,
have her license suspended, and eventually end up in jail for driving with a
suspended license. Higher prices also increase the burden on those least able to
bear it, forcing low-income consumers
to opt for cheaper fly-by-night providers,
or forgo other necessities to pay their
car insurance bills.
It isn’t completely clear why some
major auto insurers persist in treating
minority neighborhoods differently.
It may in part be a vestige of longstanding practices dating back to an
era when American businesses routinely discriminated against nonwhite
customers. It’s also possible that the
proprietary algorithms used by insurers may inadvertently favor white over
minority neighborhoods.
We have limited our analysis to the
four states that release the type of data
needed to compare insurance payouts
by geography. Still, these states represent the spectrum of government
PHOTOGRAPH BY ALYSSA SCHUKAR, SPECIAL TO PROPUBLICA
oversight of the insurance industry.
California is the most highly regulated
insurance market in the U.S.; Illinois,
one of the least regulated. In addition,
some insurers whose prices appear
to vary by neighborhood demographics operate nationally. That raises the
prospect that many minority neighborhoods across the country may be
paying too much for auto insurance, or
white neighborhoods, too little.
This investigation marks the first
use of industry payout data to measure racial disparities in car insurance
premiums across states. It’s part of
ProPublica’s examination of the hidden
power of algorithms in our lives—from
the equations that determine Amazon’s
top sellers to the calculations used to
predict an individual’s likelihood of
committing future crimes.
Our analysis examined more than
100,000 premiums charged for
liability insurance—the combination
of bodily injury and property damage
that represents the minimum coverage
drivers buy in each of the states. To
equalize driver-related variables such
as age and accident history, we limited
our study to one type of customer: a
30-year-old woman with a safe driving record. We then compared those
premiums, which were provided by
Quadrant Information Services, to the
average amounts paid out by insurers
for liability claims in each ZIP code.
In California, Texas, and Missouri,
our analysis is based on state data that
covers insurance claims received, and
payouts by, the state’s insurers over
the most recent five-year period for
which data was available. In Illinois,
the data covers a three-year period.
We defi ned minority ZIP codes as
having greater than 66 percent nonwhite population in California and
Texas. In Missouri and Illinois, we
defi ned it as greater than 50 percent,
in order to have a sufficiently large
sample size.
In all four states, we found insurers
with significant gaps between the
premiums charged in minority and
non-minority neighborhoods with
the same average risk. In Illinois,
of the 34 companies we analyzed,
33 of them were charging at least
10 percent more, on average, for the
same safe driver in minority ZIP codes
than in comparably risky white ZIP
codes. (The exception was USAA’s
Garrison Property & Casualty subsidiary, which charged 9 percent more.)
Six Illinois insurers, including Allstate,
which is the second-largest insurer
in the state, had average disparities
WHAT’S WRONG WITH
THIS PICTURE?
Drivers in East Garfield Park, Ill.,
a mostly minority neighborhood,
often pay more for car insurance than
those in nearby non-minority
neighborhoods with similar risk.
55
higher than 30 percent.
While in Illinois the disparities
remained about the same from the
safest to the most dangerous ZIP
codes, in the other three states the
disparities were confined to the
riskiest neighborhoods. In those
instances, prices in whiter neighborhoods stayed about the same as
risk increased, while premiums in
minority neighborhoods went up.
In Missouri and Texas, at least half
of the insurers we studied charged
higher premiums for a safe driver in
high-risk minority communities than
in comparably risky non-minority
communities. And even in highly
regulated California, we found eight
insurers whose prices in risky minority neighborhoods were more than 10
percent above similar ZIP codes where
more residents were white.
Paying Too Much
J
udging by how much insurers have had to pay out for
accident claims in their
Chicago neighborhoods,
Nash should be paying less
than Hedges, not more.
Over a three-year period, Illinois insurers have paid out about $172 per car
each year in bodily injury and property damage claims in Nash’s ZIP code,
60612, according to data collected by
the state insurance commission. That’s
20 percent less than the $216 per
car that insurers paid out for similar
claims in Hedges’ ZIP code, 60657.
But the liability premiums charged
by Nash’s insurer, Geico Casualty, in
those two neighborhoods actually give
a discount to the riskier white neighborhood. In Nash’s neighborhood,
FIGHTING FOR FAIR CAR INSURANCE
THIS INVESTIGATION
with ProPublica, first
published in April
on CR.org, generated
significant interest
among consumers,
advocates, elected
officials, and insurers.
And in some cases, it
prompted action.
Six congressional
Democrats recently
urged the Treasury
department to appoint a
director for the Federal
Insurance Office (FIO),
which monitors access of
minority and low-income
Americans to insurance
and has been targeted
for elimination. The CR/
ProPublica investigation
makes “clear the need for
a fully staffed FIO,” the
members wrote, saying
our analysis affirmed a
56
CR.ORG
recent FIO report that
found about 19 million
Americans live in areas
where auto insurance
is unaffordable.
Also citing our report,
Illinois state Senator
Jacqueline Collins
helped introduce
legislation to crack down
on unfair practices.
“Whether it’s drawing
red lines on a map,” she
said, “or defining drivers
by credit scores or ZIP
codes, racial disparities
in economic transactions
have stubbornly
persisted.”
And the California
advocacy group
Consumer Watchdog
has asked the state to
investigate insurers and
require them to submit
risk data by ZIP code.
CR, which believes the
cost of auto insurance
should be based
primarily on factors
such as how well and
how much you drive,
has asked the National
Association of Insurance
Commissioners, as
well as commissioners
in California, Illinois,
Missouri, and Texas, to
examine how insurers
set prices. And we’ve
requested that industry
representatives who
have questioned our
findings release the
liability losses for all
the companies in the
ZIP codes we analyzed.
For more on our
analysis and its
impact, go to
CR.org/carinsurance
investigation.
JULY 2017
Geico charges $409 for annual liability
coverage for a 30-year-old woman who
is a safe driver, according to insurance
quotes provided by Quadrant. In Lake
View, Geico charges $338 for the same
coverage for the same driver.
For the liability portion of their Geico
coverage, Nash is paying $831.34 annually, while Hedges is paying just $549.58,
according to their records. Hedges pays
less even though he bought higher coverage limits for bodily injury and his Audi
is worth about three times as much as
Nash’s Honda. A Geico filing in Illinois indicates that it charges more to insure an
expensive car than a cheap one.
Nash said he is accustomed to seeing
his neighborhood shortchanged. “When
you go to the richer neighborhoods, the
red light cameras kind of go away,” he
said. “That system is kind of designed
for you to fail.”
Geico did not respond to repeated
requests for comment.
The disparities persist even in affluent minority neighborhoods. Consider
Pernell Cox, a Los Angeles businessman who lives in a wealthy enclave in
South Los Angeles sometimes referred
to as the “Black Beverly Hills.” His insurer, Safeco, a subsidiary of Liberty
Mutual, charges 13 percent more for
a 30-year-old female safe driver in his
neighborhood than in a ZIP code with
comparable risk in Woodland Hills,
a predominantly white suburb in north
Los Angeles.
“I was surprised by the magnitude” of
the price difference, Cox said.
Cox then shopped around and realized he could save nearly $400 a year
by switching to Allstate for his two
Mercedes-Benzes.
Liberty Mutual, the parent company
of Safeco, told ProPublica it is committed to offering drivers “competitively
priced car insurance coverage options.”
Individual insurers don’t publicly
release their losses on a ZIP-code level,
and have long resisted demands for that
level of transparency. As a result, our
analysis is based on aggregated losses
experienced by almost all insurers in a
given ZIP code in California, Illinois, and
Missouri, and by 70 percent of insurers
in Texas.
The California Department of Insurance criticized this approach. It disputed
ProPublica’s analysis and findings on
the grounds that an individual insurer’s
losses in a given ZIP code may vary
significantly from the industry average.
“The study’s flawed methodology results
in a flawed conclusion” that some insurers discriminate in setting rates, it said.
To be sure, it’s possible that some
insurers have proprietary data that
justify the higher premiums we found
in minority neighborhoods. Moreover,
in any given ZIP code, an individual
insurer’s losses could differ from the
average losses experienced by other
insurers. But it is unlikely that those
differences would result in a consistent
pattern of higher prices for minority
neighborhoods.
Consider the internal losses that Nationwide disclosed in a 2015 rate filing
in California. We compared premiums
charged by Nationwide’s Allied subsidiary to Nationwide’s losses and found
that minority ZIP codes were being
charged 21 percent more than similarly
risky non-minority ZIP codes—a greater
disparity than the 14 percent we found
when comparing Allied premiums to
overall state risk data.
The Illinois Department of Insurance
also criticized ProPublica’s report. “We
believe the methodology used in this
report is incomplete and oversimplifies
the comparison of rates in minority vs.
non-minority neighborhoods,” said department spokesman Michael Batkins.
The Texas Department of Insurance
said that it was reviewing ProPublica’s
analysis. “It’s important to us that rates
are fair to all consumers,” said department spokesman Jerry Hagins. The
Missouri Department of Insurance did
not respond to repeated inquiries.
Many insurers did not respond to our
questions. Those that did generally disputed our results and said that they do
not discriminate by race in rate setting.
Eric Hardgrove, director of public relations at Nationwide, said it uses “nondiscriminatory rating factors in compliance
with each state’s ratemaking laws.” He
did not respond to inquiries about our
analysis of Nationwide’s internal losses
in California.
Roger Wildermuth, spokesman for
USAA, said that its premiums reflect
neighborhood conditions. “Some areas
may have slightly higher rates due to
factors such as congestion that lead to
more accidents or higher crime rates
that lead to higher auto thefts,” he said.
A Long, Troubled History
I
nsurers have long cited neighborhood congestion as a factor
in their decision-making. In
1940, a young lawyer named
Thurgood Marshall wrote to a
friend that he had been denied auto
insurance by Travelers. When Marshall
complained to the company, he was
told that “the refusal was on the basis
of the fact that I live in a ‘congested
area,’ meaning Harlem, and ‘not’ because I am a Negro.”
Marshall, who later argued and won
the landmark school desegregation
case Brown v. Board of Education and
went on to become a Supreme Court
Justice, concluded, according to his
letter, that “it is practically impossible
to work out a court case because the
In Illinois, of the
34 companies we
analyzed, 33 were
charging at least
10 percent more, on
average, for the same
safe driver in minority
ZIP codes than in
comparably risky white
ZIP codes.
insurance is usually refused on some
technical ground.”
In Marshall’s day, redlining was often
defined by refusal to provide loans,
insurance, or other services in minority
neighborhoods. But as those practices
became public and controversial—due
in part to Marshall’s activism as an attorney for the NAACP—insurers stopped
asking applicants to identify their race.
In the 1940s, as part of a bargain to
win an exemption from federal antitrust
laws, the insurance industry agreed to
be regulated by state laws that included
prohibitions against discriminatory rate
setting. Soon after, following model legislation recommended by the National
Association of Insurance Commissioners, most states passed laws that “rates
should not be inadequate, excessive, or
unfairly discriminatory.” The legislation
defines discrimination as “price differentials” that “fail to reflect equitably the
differences in expected losses
and expenses.”
Of course, the laws didn’t immediately
stop discrimination. In a thorough
examination of MetLife’s history
released in 2002, New York state insurance regulators cataloged all of the ways
that the company discriminated against
black applicants for life insurance—
dating back to the 1880s, when it refused
to insure them at all, and into the
first half of the 20th century, when it
required minorities to submit to
additional medical exams and sold them
substandard plans.
In the 1960s, as insurers stopped
asking applicants to declare their race,
MetLife began dividing cities into
areas. In minority areas, applicants were
subject to more stringent criteria,
according to the report. In 2002,
MetLife agreed to pay as much as $160
million to compensate minorities who
were sold substandard policies.
In the auto insurance industry,
similar practices occurred. To this day,
most auto insurers base premiums in
part on “territorial ratings,” derived
from the risk of the area where the
CR.ORG
57
car is garaged.
The territorial ratings are “a way
of taking into account the conditions
under which you are driving,” said
David Snyder, a vice president at the
Property Casualty Insurers Association
of America.
This geographic pricing means that
the same driver may be charged different rates depending on the part of town
in which he or she lives.
In 1978, Los Angeles County
Supervisor Kenneth Hahn pleaded with
Congress to rectify the stark inequities
of territorial ratings. He said the same
good driver would pay over $900 if he
lived in Watts, a poor black neighborhood, and just $385 if he lived in predominantly white San Diego County.
“They are being ripped off by
the biggest companies in America,”
Hahn testified.
But Congress didn’t act.
Bill Corley, who is African-American,
started his career as a Farmers Insurance agent in West Los Angeles in
1977. He said the discrimination wasn’t
obvious on the surface. “Officially,
you could write insurance anywhere
you wanted to write insurance,” he
recalled. But, Corley said, if you had
too many clients in low-income areas,
Farmers executives “would tell you all
the problems that could be associated
with that, and you were scared off and
intimidated from doing so.”
When he sold insurance in minority
neighborhoods, Corley said, the Farmers
managers “would nitpick it. They would
ask you questions about people’s income
levels and questions about neighboring
properties—which I don’t really recall
ever having to address when I was writing policies in other neighborhoods in
the city.” Farmers did not respond to
repeated inquiries.
Corley persisted, and eventually established a network of independent minority insurance brokers who worked
together to persuade leading insurers
to make them agents and sell policies
through them. Corley, who now works
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CR.ORG
as an independent insurance agent
with offices in San Diego and San Jose,
said the increased diversity of agents
has improved the business. “Agents
and brokers were complicit, and
helped to perpetuate redlining, by not
making an effort to write policies in
those areas,” he said.
Today, some insurers consider other
factors beyond the risk of accident
payouts in setting rates. Such criteria
as credit score and occupation have
been shown to result in higher prices
for minorities.
Allstate is implementing a new
method for tailoring rates to “microsegments” that appear to be as small as
an individual policyholder—a method
referred to in the industry as price
optimization.
More than a dozen states have set
limits on insurers’ use of price optimization, expressing concerns that
the technique allows insurers to raise
premiums on customers who don’t
shop around for better rates. In 2014,
for instance, the Maryland Insurance
Administration banned price optimization, saying it results in rates that are
“unfairly discriminatory.” (In this
context, discrimination refers to any
pricing that is not related to risk; the
effect on minority neighborhoods has
not been studied.)
Allstate has disclosed in filings that it
is using price optimization in at least 24
states, including Illinois, Missouri, and
Texas. Allstate spokesman Justin Herndon said the company “uses the likelihood of loss to price insurance which is
required by law and specific prices are
approved by state regulators.”
In California, when insurers set rates
for sparsely populated rural ZIP codes,
which tend to be whiter, they are allowed to consider risk in contiguous
ZIP codes of their own choosing. Often,
the companies group these ZIP codes
with similar areas that also have few
policyholders, according to insurers’
rate filings. They then assign lower risk
to the entire region than appears to be
JULY 2017
warranted by the state’s accident data.
However rates are calculated, auto
insurance remains unaffordable in
many predominantly minority areas of
the nation, according to an analysis by
ProPublica of U.S. census data and
30 million auto insurance quotes.
We found that households in
minority-majority ZIP codes spent more
than twice as much of their household
income on auto insurance (11 percent)
compared with households in majoritywhite neighborhoods (5 percent). The
U.S. Treasury Department has defined
auto insurance as affordable if it costs
2 percent or less of household income.
Consider Kelley Jenkins, a 39-year-old
mother of three who lives on Chicago’s
South Side. When she was laid off from
an office job last summer, she tried to
make ends meet by driving for Uber
and Lyft. But after two months of sporadic driving, when she was sometimes
making only $100 or $200 a week,
she couldn’t afford to keep up her $112
monthly auto insurance payments.
“I was in a major struggle,” she said.
When she gave up her auto insurance, she lost her driving gigs. Luckily, she soon found a job as a security
guard. But she still can barely afford
auto insurance, so she bought a barebones plan from a low-cost insurer.
Jenkins said she would love to get
insurance from one of the brand-name
companies, but every time she calls for
a quote, she realizes, “Oh no, I can’t
afford it.”
Hard-to-Find Data
ver the years, efforts
to investigate redlining
in car insurance
have repeatedly been
stymied by the same
barrier: the industry's refusal to make
crucial data available.
After the Rodney King riots in Los
Angeles in 1992, when people took to
the streets to protest the acquittal
O
PRICE OF ENTRY
PHOTOGRAPH BY ALYSSA SCHUKAR, SPECIAL TO PROPUBLICA
Otis Nash, a working father
who lives in a mostly minority
neighborhood in Chicago, pays
almost four times as much for
his car insurance as a driver who
lives in a comparably risky
non-minority neighborhood.
of policemen who had been filmed
beating a black driver, it turned out that
about half of an estimated $1 billion in
losses from destroyed businesses and
homes were not covered by insurance.
California Insurance Commissioner
John Garamendi blamed discriminatory practices by the nation’s insurance
companies. Touring the battered ruins
of the city a month after the riots, he
told a New York Times reporter, “I
am convinced redlining exists. The
bottom line is either you can’t get or
can’t afford it.”
Garamendi subsequently approved
rules that required insurers to report
their market share by ZIP code. But insurers argued that the data was a trade
secret that couldn’t be released to the
public. It wasn’t until 2004, after years
of legal battles, that insurers lost their
case in California Supreme Court.
Also spurred by the Los Angeles
riots, several congressional committees
held hearings and began studying the
issue of redlining, but were stymied
by lack of data. The U.S. General Accounting Office, now known as the U.S.
Government Accountability Office,
reported in 1994 that an analysis of
insurance availability would require insurance companies to begin reporting
JULY 2017
data at ZIP code or census tract level nationwide. “Currently available data are
insufficient to determine the extent of
current problems,” the report stated.
The National Association of Insurance
Commissioners also set up a committee
to investigate redlining. It didn’t get the
necessary data, either.
Robert Klein, who was researching
the issue for the association, said in an
interview that “the insurance industry
opposed the idea of collecting loss and
claims data and the NAIC committee
sided with the industry and not with me
on this point.”
Without data about insurers’ losses,
CR.ORG
59
Klein’s report could not determine why
premiums were higher in minority
neighborhoods—whether the difference
was truly because of greater risk there.
“Researchers were unable to draw definitive conclusions about the causes of these
market conditions,” the report stated.
Insurers say they set prices based
on risk but are reluctant to share the
data underlying their risk analyses,
such as losses per ZIP code. Publishing
data publicly about losses means
“you’re creating something that is
valuable and you are essentially giving
it away,” said Lynch, of the Insurance
Information Institute.
Texas consumer advocate Birny
Birnbaum won a rare victory when,
through a public records request, he
obtained data collected by the state insurance commission at a ZIP-code level.
In 1997, using the information about
each insurer’s number of policies,
premiums, and losses by ZIP code,
Birnbaum published a fiery report naming Nationwide, Safeco, State Farm,
USAA, and Farm Bureau as among the
“worst redliners” in the state because
they had much smaller market share in
minority neighborhoods than in other
neighborhoods.
The insurers sued the Texas Department of Insurance and Birnbaum,
contending that the information was
a trade secret and making it public
had damaged their business. A Travis
County district court judge ruled in the
insurers’ favor, saying they would “suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a
temporary injunction.”
“There were roughly 200 insurance
companies in the state. They all sued,”
recalled D.J. Powers, who was Birnbaum’s pro bono attorney. “It was the
entire auto insurance industry versus
me and Birny.”
Since then, Birnbaum has continued
to advocate for insurance commissions
to collect and publicly release data that
can be used for analysis of redlining
and other issues. However, to this day,
very few states do so. ProPublica filed
60
CR.ORG
public records requests in all 50 states
and the District of Columbia seeking
ZIP-code-level data about liability claims
payouts. Only four states said they collected such data and provided it.
“Regulators are no better equipped
to analyze or address these problems
than they were 20 or 30 years ago,”
Birnbaum said. “If you can’t even monitor the market to identify the problem,
you’re certainly not going to be in a position to address the problem.”
The Inner-City Penalty
O
n a redlining map of
Chicago created by
a federal housing
agency in 1940,
Otis Nash’s neighborhood, East Garfield Park, is colored
red for “hazardous.”
“This is a mediocre district threatened with negro encroachment,” the
map states. “Most properties are obsolete and the section is very congested.”
The term redlining is sometimes
thought to have originated with these
maps, which were created for many
American cities by the federal Home
Owners’ Loan Corporation between
1935 and 1940. The maps were used to
assist loan officers in deciding which
properties were worth financing.
East Garfield Park was originally built
as a community of townhouses for
factory workers. Like much of Chicago’s
West and South Sides, it became a
predominantly minority neighborhood
in the 1950s and ’60s as redlining
discouraged investment and the city
built an expressway and low-income
housing projects in the area. Whites
fled for the suburbs.
In 1970, East Garfield Park was
among the many Chicago neighborhoods swept up in a wave of auto insurance redlining. In an experiment,
Illinois had switched in 1969 from traditional auto insurance regulation—in
which rates were approved by state
JULY 2017
regulators before being issued—to
a so-called “open rating system” in
which companies could issue rates
without regulatory permission.
Illinois insurers soon divided
Chicago into four territories for rate
setting, a scheme that led to higher
premiums in black neighborhoods.
A group of black insurance brokers
banded together to protest what
they called a “color tax” that was
being levied on black neighborhoods
in Chicago.
The issue was severe enough that
the U.S. Senate Antitrust and Monopoly subcommittee held a hearing
in Chicago to examine it. One witness,
undertaker Charles Childs, said the
premiums on his two cars for personal use, a Cadillac and a Mercury,
had risen from $450 in 1970 to $950 in
1971, and he had to drop coverage for
his fleet of undertaker vehicles.
“As rates have been increased in
the inner city, they have substantially
decreased in essentially white areas,”
Millard D. Robbins Jr., the head of the
Insurance Brokers Association of
Chicago, said at a press conference.
“This creates a surtax on blackness
and a discount for being Caucasian.”
With black Chicagoans in rebellion,
the Illinois legislature declined to
renew the experimental open competition law in 1971. But they couldn’t
agree on a new law to replace it—so
they just allowed the statute regulating auto insurance rate setting and
prohibiting discrimination to expire.
Since then, Illinois, home to the
corporate headquarters of State Farm
and Allstate, has been the only state
without legislation explicitly barring
excessive or discriminatory rates in
car insurance. Illinois does prohibit
auto insurers from charging higher
premiums to a customer because of
his or her physical disability, race,
color, religion, or national origin.
To address complaints of discrimination from Chicago, lawmakers in
1971 proposed a compromise: They
would ban insurers from using the four
rating territories in the city.
“The question is: shall we give the
blacks in Chicago a fair break on
insurance rates?” said Illinois state
Sen. Egbert Groen during the
statehouse debate.
In 1972, they passed a law requiring
insurers to use a single territorial rate
within the city of Chicago for bodily
injury coverage. “No one will be helped
more than those in the inner city,” predicted Illinois State Rep. Bernard Epton.
But the reality has turned out differently. For many insurers we examined,
premiums were high for everyone
within the city of Chicago, regardless
of risk, compared with the rest of the
state. Since Chicago contains onethird of the state’s minority neighborhoods, that means they are still being
overcharged.
And even within Chicago, the law has
not prohibited insurers from differentiating prices by neighborhood. That’s
because the single-territory rule is limited to bodily injury coverage; rates for
property damage can still vary. (Both
bodily injury and property damage
coverage are mandatory for drivers to
purchase in Illinois.)
Consider the premiums that Geico
charges to Otis Nash and Ryan Hedges.
In Nash’s ZIP code, 60612, Geico has
set the base rate for property damage
insurance at $753 a year, according to
the company’s December 2016 rate
filing in Illinois.
That’s eight times higher than what
Illinois insurers have paid out in property damage claims in that ZIP code—an
average of $91.57 per car in the three
years ending in 2014, according to data
from the state insurance commission.
By comparison, in Hedges’ neighborhood, 60657, Geico has set the base rate
for property damage insurance at $376
a year, according to the same filing.
That’s half of the Geico base rate in
Nash’s neighborhood. It’s also only about
four times higher than what Illinois insurers have paid out in property damage
Households in minoritymajority ZIP codes spent
more than twice as
much of their household
income on auto
insurance compared
with those in majoritywhite neighborhoods.
claims in Hedges’ ZIP code—an average of
$104.45 per car over the same period.
Of course, Geico’s calculations could
reflect the unique risk of the insurer’s
own clientele that is somehow not
reflected in the state averages. But it
could also reflect a disparity, unrelated to risk, that punishes a minority
neighborhood.
Either way, the $377 disparity between property damage base rates
accounts for the majority of the difference in liability premiums paid by
Nash and Hedges. The base rate is
adjusted by other factors such as age
and driving record.
Both Nash and Hedges have about the
same amount of property damage coverage for their vehicles.
Despite scraping to make ends meet,
Nash bought collision, comprehensive,
and liability, as well as rental reimbursement, emergency road service,
and uninsured motorist coverage. “I
got everything,” he said, “because you
hear so many horror stories.”
He’s dependent on his car. He needs
it to go to work, to shop for groceries
now that the local pharmacy closed in
his neighborhood and the dollar store
burned down, and to take his 7-yearold daughter out to the suburbs where
she can ride her bicycle in a park that
is safe from crime.
“I don’t even walk up and down the
block with my daughter,” Nash said,
adding that it’s not unusual in the summer to “hear gunshots during the day.”
Nash said he is working with a financial adviser to cut back his expenses so
JULY 2017
he can make his rent payments. Still,
he’s reluctant to give up any of his car
insurance. “I would choose the rent
over my car but that would be playing
with fire,” he said.
Hedges has even more coverage
than Nash, but it is not a financial burden for him.
Hedges’ premium recently went
up after his husband got into an
accident. But even after the incident,
their combined price of $115.37 a month
for two cars is lower than the $190.69
a month that Nash pays for just one
car. When told about the difference in
prices, Hedges said it seemed unfair.
“It’s an unfortunate reflection of
where we are in the corporate world and
how we treat each other,” Hedges said.
Nash agreed: “Why would you go
to the most poor communities and
charge more?”
THE PARTNERSHIP
BEHIND THIS
INVESTIGATION
Consumer Reports partnered
with ProPublica, another nonprofit
journalism organization,
to produce this report. Together,
our teams pored over reams
of data points in several major
cities, including Chicago and
Los Angeles, to analyze whether
the premiums being charged to
drivers are justified by the risk in
their areas. The story was written
and reported by ProPublica with
Consumer Reports’ collaboration,
and both groups contributed to the
video storytelling. Our respective
institutions operate independently.
Any policy positions that
Consumer Reports may take in
the marketplace do not reflect
the views of ProPublica, which
does not take advocacy positions.
We hope the content here and at
ProPublica.org will illuminate the
significant impact such pricing
disparity can have on consumers.
CR.ORG
61
Road Test
Small but
Mighty
With outstanding fuel
efficiency, a comfortable ride,
and more roominess than you
might think, the new Subaru
Impreza is a giant among
small cars.
Comfort
With Class
The Kia Cadenza rolls
out a redesign with
improved fuel economy
and plenty of power.
62
CR.ORG
We conduct more than 50 tests on each vehicle at our 327-acre
Auto Test Center. For complete road tests, go to CR.org/cars.
THE IMPREZA has always been
a smart, practical choice.
Thanks to competitive fuel
economy and a redesign that
addressed its few deficiencies,
the 2017 model is now our
top-rated compact sedan.
It’s surprisingly roomy and
has good 360-degree visibility.
Consider getting the optional
leather seats with their variety
of power adjustments; the base
cloth ones are flat and provide
only so-so comfort. The rear
seats are spacious enough for
two adults to settle in without
competing for room. The
control layout is uncluttered
and the infotainment system
is easy to use. Subaru
employed various measures
to lessen wind and road noise
in the cabin, and the work
has paid off. Engine noise is
noticeable only at high revs.
Subaru’s 2.0-liter fourcylinder engine gets the job
done, although acceleration
is a bit tepid. Considering that
the Impreza has standard allwheel drive, its 30 mpg overall
is impressive for being on par
with lighter front-drive models.
The Impreza delivers an
unbeatable combination of
responsive, sure-footed handling
and a smooth ride. It’s one of
the most comfortable-riding
compact cars; road bumps are
absorbed with the grace of cars
costing twice as much.
All Imprezas, except the
base version, offer the EyeSight
safety system, which includes
forward-collision warning and
automatic emergency braking.
Blind-spot warning is optional,
packaged along with EyeSight.
THE LARGE, second-generation
Cadenza proves again to be
an upscale vehicle that favors
passenger coddling over
driving verve.
The slick, punchy 3.3-liter
V6 has been retuned for better
fuel economy. Further aiding
efficiency is a smooth-shifting
eight-speed automatic. The
result is a commendable
24 mpg overall on regular gas.
This is a big, front-wheeldrive car, and it feels a bit
cumbersome as it tries to
hustle through turns. Nor
is the ride quite as plush as
its luxurious cabin implies.
While generally pleasant, the
suspension falls short of the
class-leading Chevrolet Impala
when it comes to filtering out
road imperfections.
The hushed, well-made
interior is where the Cadenza
shines. Broad doors make entry
easy, the wide front seats fit
most people well, and the rear
seat has abundant legroom.
The controls are refreshingly
straightforward, and the
infotainment system doesn’t
require much of a learning
curve. Plus, there are plenty
of modest-sized compartments
to stash small items.
We commend Kia for
making forward-collision
warning and automatic
emergency braking standard
on higher-trim Cadenzas.
But these two important safety
systems aren’t available at
all on the base Premium. That’s
a shame, because stepping
up to the Technology version
means spending an extra
$7,000 on top of the $32,890
base price.
JULY 2017
COMPACT SEDANS
Subaru Impreza
OVERALL
SCORE
81
0
ROAD-TEST SCORE 85
HIGHS
Ride, braking, fuel economy,
roomy interior, controls
LOWS
Front-seat comfort
POWERTRAIN
152-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder
engine; continuously variable
transmission; all-wheel drive
FUEL
30 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED
$23,410
LARGE SEDANS
Kia Cadenza
OVERALL
SCORE
82
0
ROAD-TEST SCORE 91
HIGHS
Acceleration, smooth
powertrain, quietness,
braking, interior room,
controls
LOWS
Lacks agility, automatic
emergency braking not
available on Premium trim
POWERTRAIN
290-hp, 3.3-liter V6 engine;
8-speed automatic
transmission; front-wheel drive
FUEL
24 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED
$36,945
1 2 3 4 5
WORSE
Silky
Sophisticate
The kinder, gentler
BMW 5 Series is a
refined yet highly
capable driving machine.
Family-Friendly
Road Warrior
PHOTOS: JOHN POWERS
The updated Toyota
Highlander* is a supersized
value for big families
and anyone who appreciates
practicality and safety.
THE REDESIGNED 5 Series is
more luxurious than ever.
Handling lacks the exacting
precision the car was once
known for, but the impressive
BMW earns its place as a top
midsized luxury sedan.
The 5 Series manages this
feat with the base 2.0-liter,
248-horsepower turbo fourcylinder that comes in the
530i. Power isn’t explosive,
but there’s more than enough
oomph for merging and
passing. The eight-speed
automatic is a delight. Its
shifts are imperceptible, and
the transmission is always
perfectly in tune with your
foot. At 26 mpg overall, the 530i
xDrive tops the segment.
Handling is capable and
composed, but the steering is
short on feedback; the 5 isn’t as
eager through curves as most
BMWs. On the other hand,
the ride is serene and supple,
unfazed by pretty much any
potholes on the road. Wind and
tire noise are well-muted.
The cabin is beautifully
crafted. Most of the iDrive infotainment system’s idiosyncrasies
have been ironed out. But the
electronic shift lever isn’t intuitive. The standard front seats are
thoroughly relaxing and supportive. The rear seat is accommodating, with decent legroom
and headroom, but it’s a bit short
on thigh support.
There are many available
active safety systems, but it’s
disappointing that forwardcollision warning and automatic
emergency braking aren’t
standard on a car that starts
at $52,195.
TOYOTA’S MIDSIZED three-row
SUV blends functionality,
family-friendliness, and fuel
efficiency. Its solid reliability
and stellar resale value
broaden its appeal.
With more horsepower for
2017, the V6 engine provides
ample muscle for drivers to
confidently pass or merge in
traffic. The new eight-speed
transmission and engine
start/stop feature improved
fuel economy by 2 mpg, for a
respectable 22 mpg overall.
But unfortunately, the shifts
can be felt as mild bumps. For
greater efficiency, consider the
Highlander Hybrid, with its
impressive 25 mpg overall.
Well-suited to road trips,
the Highlander’s ride is steady
and serene, absorbing road
imperfections with ease.
Handling is responsive but
not particularly engaging.
Still, the Highlander remains
predictable and secure in
emergency maneuvers.
The driver’s seat is plushly
padded, and visibility is largely
unobstructed. A roomy threeperson second-row seat allows
the Highlander to carry up to
eight people, although three
child seats won’t fit across.
Seatbacks easily fold down flat
to expand the cargo area, and
the numerous storage bins are
handy. Controls are simple and
clear, including those on the
infotainment system’s 8-inch
touch screen, but some
require a long reach.
Toyota has raised the bar
by making active safety
systems standard, including
forward-collision warning and
automatic emergency braking.
* The Highlander is one of the cars we recommend in our list of “The Top 25 New Cars for Senior Drivers,” on page 29.
BETTER
LUXURY MIDSIZED SEDANS
BMW 530i xDrive
OVERALL
SCORE
81
0
ROAD-TEST SCORE 94
HIGHS
Ride, quietness, transmission,
seat comfort, fit and finish,
fuel economy
LOWS
Some controls may not
be intuitive, automatic
emergency braking should
be standard at this price
POWERTRAIN
248-hp, 2.0-liter turbo fourcylinder engine; 8-speed
automatic transmission;
all-wheel drive
FUEL
26 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED
$65,210
MIDSIZED SUVS
Toyota Highlander
OVERALL
SCORE
84
0
ROAD-TEST SCORE 82
HIGHS
Standard advanced safety
gear, spacious interior,
simple controls, strong
reliability and resale value
LOWS
Transmission smoothness
POWERTRAIN
295-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine;
eight-speed automatic
transmission, all-wheel drive
FUEL
22 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED
$41,169
CR.ORG
63
1 2 3 4 5
Ratings Super SUVs and Sedans Whether you want an urbanfriendly runabout, a family or luxury sedan, or a
seven-passenger hauler, these vehicles hit the sweet spot.
Controls
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Luggage,
Suitcases+
Duffels/Cargo
Volume, Cu. Ft.
Seat Comfort,
Front/Rear
56.0
Noise
4
0
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124
Ride
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Opt.
9.5
Routine
Handling
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AvoidanceManeuver
Speed, MPH
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Dry Braking,
60-0 MPH, Ft.
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Opt.
Acceleration,
0-60 MPH, Sec.
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Road-Test Results
Road-Test
Score
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BETTER
! RECOMMENDED
Safety
Front-Crash
Prevention
Survey
Results
Owner
Satisfaction
Overall
Score
Predicted
Reliability
Price
As Tested
Recommended
Make & Model
WORSE
COMPACT SEDANS
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
Subaru Impreza Premium
$23,410 81
Chevrolet Cruze LT
$23,145 78
Toyota Corolla LE
$20,652 77
Kia Forte LX
$19,570 76
Mazda3 Touring (2.0L)
$21,740 72
Hyundai Elantra SE
$20,090 69
Honda Civic EX-T
$23,035 57
Ford Focus SE (2.0L)
$20,485 47
77
30
8.5
125
56.0
Std. / 71
32
9.9
138
54.5
Opt.
80
33
10.1
128
52.5
Opt.
72
33
8.3
133
54.5
Opt.
66
33
9.9
133
54.0
Opt.
75
31
7.1
129
54.5
NA
67
29
9.8
128
51.5
Opt.
91
22
6.9
130
54.0
5
0
2+2
3+1
3+1
3+1
2+3
3+1
3+1
2+1
LARGE SEDANS
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
Chevrolet Impala
Premier (V6)
$39,110 84
Toyota Avalon Limited (V6)
$42,010 83
Kia Cadenza Premium
$36,945 82
Buick LaCrosse Essence
$43,225 78
Chrysler 300 Limited (V6)
$38,335 66
5
0
Std. / 80
24
6.6
135
52.0
Opt.
91
24
7.0
127
52.0
Opt.
85
24
6.3
127
54.0
Opt.
83
22
7.4
137
50.0
Opt.
90
22
5.7
132
52.5
Opt.
95
22
6.5
125
52.0
Opt.
94
26
7.2
130
52.5
89
20
7.2
129
53.0
85
24
7.1
128
54.5
83
22
6.5
127
54.5
Std. / 73
23
7.2
130
52.5
Opt.
83
21
5.8
128
51.0
Std. / 82
22
7.4
134
48.5
Opt.
84
21
7.4
131
49.5
Opt.
81
20
7.6
133
51.0
Opt.
80
20
7.5
136
49.5
Opt.
80
22
7.9
139
50.0
Opt.
67
18
7.9
135
49.5
Opt.
83
18
8.3
134
48.0
Opt.
72
18
7.7
137
47.0
4+2
4+0
4+0
3+2
3+1
LUXURY MIDSIZED SEDANS
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
Audi A6 3.0 Premium Plus
Quattro
Cadillac CT6 Luxury
(3.6, AWD)
$56,295 84
$64,485 81
BMW 530i xDrive
$65,210 81
Genesis G80 3.8 (AWD)
$52,450 80
Mercedes-Benz E300
4MATIC
Cadillac CTS Luxury
(V6, AWD)
Volvo S90 T6
Momentum (AWD)
Jaguar XF Prestige (V6)
$69,585 74
$58,780 71
$61,855 62
$66,586 61
5
0
Std. / 5
0
Std. / Opt.
5
0
3+1
3+2
3+1
3+1
2+2
2+2
2+2
2+1
MIDSIZED 3-ROW SUVs
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
!
0
Toyota Highlander XLE (V6)
$41,169 84
Kia Sorento EX (V6)
$37,915 82
Hyundai Santa Fe SE (V6)
$36,290 78
Honda Pilot EX-L
$39,585 75
Mazda CX-9 Touring
$40,470 74
Ford Explorer XLT (V6)
$39,275 59
Dodge Durango GT (V6)
$43,525 58
Nissan Pathfinder SL
$40,470 56
HOW WE TEST: Recommended models
did well in our Overall Score, which
factors in Road-Test Results, Predicted
Reliability, Owner Satisfaction, and
Safety, which includes crash-test results
64
CR.ORG
and the availability of Front-Crash
Prevention features, such as forwardcollision warning and automatic
emergency braking at city or highway
speeds. For these systems, NA means
5
0
no such system is offered; Opt. means
it’s available on some versions but not
necessarily on the one we tested; and
models with standard systems are rated
from 3 to 5 based on how many of
40.5
37.5
40.5
48.0
34.0
42.0
44.0
39.5
these features are standard. We now
deduct points from the Overall Score
if a vehicle’s shifter is confusing,
lacks fail-safes, or is difficult to operate.
For full ratings, go to CR.org/cars.
ALERT This vehicle can be outfitted with a semi-autonomous driving package. Consumer Reports believes automakers should take stronger steps
to ensure that vehicles with those systems are designed, deployed, and marketed safely. Please heed all warnings and keep your hands on the wheel.
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JULY 2017
CR.ORG
65
Index
a
Accommodations services ..................... . . Jun 17, 22
Air travel
industry trends...................................... Oct 16, 18
passenger tips ....................................... . Oct 16, 18
Air-ambulance companies ..................... May 17, 52
AUTOMOBILE RATINGS
Acura MDX ................................................ Nov 16, 60
Audi A4 ...... ................................................ Nov 16, 66
Audi Q7 ...... ............................ Oct 16, 57; Nov 16, 60
BMW 7 Series............................................. . Oct 16, 57
BMW 330i ................................................... . Feb 17, 54
BMW 530i xDrive ..................................... . . . Jul 17, 63
Buick Cascada ........................................... Oct 16, 63
Buick Enclave ........................................... Nov 16, 60
Buick Envision ........................................... . Jan 17, 59
Buick LaCrosse.......................................... May 17, 59
Buick Regal ................................................ . Feb 17, 46
Cadillac CT6 ............................................... Dec 16, 75
Cadillac XT5 ............................................... Dec 16, 74
Chevrolet Camaro .................................... Oct 16, 63
Chevrolet Corvette.................................... Feb 17, 46
Chevrolet Cruze ........................................ Sep 16, 66
Chevrolet Malibu ...................................... Oct 16, 62
Chevrolet Sonic 1.8 .................................. Sep 16, 60
Chevrolet Spark .................... Sep 16, 66; Oct 16, 57
Chevrolet Volt LT .................................... Aug 16, 68
Chrysler Pacifica.................. Nov 16, 66; Feb 17, 46
Dodge Durango ........................................ Nov 16, 60
Fiat 124 Spider............................................ Jun 17, 58
Ford Escape ............................................... . Jun 17, 59
Ford Expedition........................................ . Feb 17, 46
Ford F-150................................................... . Feb 17, 46
Ford Flex ................................................... Nov 16, 60
Genesis G90 ............................................... May 17, 58
GMC Acadia ............................................... Mar 17, 63
Honda Accord ..................... Sep 16, 63; Nov 16, 60
Honda Civic............................ Sep 16, 63; Oct 16, 57
Honda CR-V (LX/EX) ................................ Jun 17, 59
Honda Fit.................................................... Sep 16, 60
Honda HR-V ............................................... Sep 16, 60
Honda Ridgeline ................... Feb 17, 46; Mar 17, 62
Hyundai Azera ......................................... Nov 16, 60
Hyundai Elantra ....................................... Sep 16, 67
Hyundai Genesis ....................................... Feb 17, 46
Infiniti Q50 .................................................. Feb 17, 54
Infiniti QX30 .............................................. Mar 17, 63
Jaguar F-Pace ............................................. Dec 16, 74
Jaguar XF ... ................................................. Dec 16, 75
Kia Cadenza ............................................... . . . Jul 17, 62
Kia Optima .............................. Oct 16, 57; Feb 17, 46
Kia Sorento ........................... Nov 16, 60; Feb 17, 46
Kia Soul ...... .................... Sep 16, 60, 63; Nov 16, 60
Kia Sportage .............................................. Oct 16, 62
Lexus ES .... ................................................ Nov 16, 60
Lexus LS 460 ............................................ Nov 16, 60
Lexus RX.................................................... Nov 16, 60
Lincoln Continental................................. May 17, 58
Lincoln MKX .............................................. . Oct 16, 57
Mazda CX-3 ................................................ Sep 16, 60
Mazda CX-9 ............................................... Nov 16, 67
Mazda3 ....... ................................................. Sep 16, 63
Mercedes-Benz E300 ............................... Feb 17, 55
Mini Clubman............................................ Sep 16, 67
Nissan Armada .......................................... May 17, 59
Nissan Sentra............................................. . Oct 16, 57
Nissan Titan XD ....................................... Nov 16, 67
Nissan Versa Note .................................... Sep 16, 60
Porsche 718 Boxster ................................. . Jun 17, 58
Porsche Macan.......................................... . Feb 17, 46
Scion iA ...... .......................................... Sep 16, 60, 63
Smart ForTwo ............................................ Oct 16, 57
Subaru Forester .................. Sep 16, 63; Nov 16, 60
Subaru Impreza ......................................... . . Jul 17, 62
Hatchback ............................................. Nov 16, 60
Subaru Legacy .......................................... Sep 16, 63
Subaru Outback ....................................... Nov 16, 60
Tesla Model X ............................................. . Jan 17, 59
Toyota Avalon .......................................... Nov 16, 60
Toyota Highlander ................ Nov 16, 60; Jul 17, 63
Toyota Prius............................ Oct 16, 57; Feb 17, 46
Prius Three ............................................ Aug 16, 67
Prius V ................................................... Nov 16, 60
66
CR.ORG
Toyota RAV4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 63; Nov 16, 60
Hybrid. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . Feb 17, 46
Toyota Sienna. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 16, 60
Toyota Tacoma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Oct 16, 57
Volkswagen Alltrack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mar 17, 62
Volvo S90. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Feb 17, 55
AUTOMOBILES & AUTO EQUIPMENT
Best & worst lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Apr 17, 30
Brand Report Card. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . Apr 17, 36
Child car seats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . Jan 17, 56
Coming in 2017 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Apr 17, 38
Dash cams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mar 17, 58
For families . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 16, 60
For first-time drivers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 63
Gear shifters
flawed designs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apr 17, 20
Insurance
price disparities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jul 17, 52
savings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Mar 17, 42
New car preview. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 16, 57
Owner satisfaction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . Feb 17, 46
Profiles, 2017 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apr 17, 52
Ratings, 2017. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apr 17, 40
Reliability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 66; Apr 17, 86
Seat belts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 61
Self-driving cars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apr 17, 10
Small SUVs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . Apr 17, 7
Tires . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apr 17, 17
ultra-high-performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . Jan 17, 52
Top Picks for 2017 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apr 17, 22
For urban driving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 60
Used cars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apr 17, 49
b–d
Back pain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jun 17, 33
Bicycle helmets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 20
Cashless payment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 16, 48
Casual restaurants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 16, 38
Clothing
insect-repellent-treated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 25
Coffee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 16, 11
beans and equipment
as gifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 58
Consumer action
antibiotic scorecard, fast food . . . . . . . . .. . Dec 16, 8
antibiotic-free chicken
at Kentucky Fried Chicken . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . Jun 17, 8
at Pizza Hut. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . Oct 16, 8
bank fraud victims’ rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mar 17, 8
banking complaints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 8
cable costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 8
car advertising, misleading. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 16, 10
clean power. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan 17, 8
CR digital privacy standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jun 17, 8
drug prices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 16, 8
electric vehicle sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 17, 8
energy costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jun 17, 8
food
labeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 16, 8
fraud restitution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apr 17, 6
free speech in
customer reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 16, 10; Mar 17, 8
fuel economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 8; Apr 17, 6
furniture tipping hazards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jul 17, 5
hair dye safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . Jun 17, 8
hearing aids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . Jul 17, 5
hospital infections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . May 17, 8
Ikea dresser recall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 8
medical bills
surprise bills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 8; Dec 16, 8
merger opposition
health insurers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 16, 10; May 17, 8
media companies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . Mar 17, 8
net neutrality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 8
payday loans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 16, 8
prepaid cards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan 17, 8
privacy protection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan 17, 8
recalled-car rental reform. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . Apr 17, 6
self-driving cars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 17, 6
solar power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 17, 6
student debt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 8; Oct 16, 8
borrower defense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 17, 6
vehicle-to-vehicle communication .. . . . . Jul 17, 5
Consumer Reports
tough safety scoring. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apr 17, 6
Conversations about money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 17, 44
Countertops
kitchen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 40
Dating services, online . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 17, 38
Debt
educational/student. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 28
key questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 34
Dishwashers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 40
Driving
seniors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jul 17, 18
Drones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan 17, 44
Drugs
off-label. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 17, 12
pricing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 52
sleeping pills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 17, 16
storage & disposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jun 17, 30
Dryers
compact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan 17, 12
e–g
Education debt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 28
key questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 34
Electronics
as gifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 26
for social media users . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 38
retailer ratings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 33
Entertainment
as gifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 57
Eyeglasses, prescription. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 17, 7
Financial services
robo-advisers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 44
Flooring
formaldehyde in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 15
kitchen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 40
Food
as gifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 34
at the mall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mar 17, 36
meal-kit delivery services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 16, 32
for parties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan 17, 9
shopping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jul 17, 30
storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 50
waste reduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 50
weird products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jul 17, 14
Generators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 16, 14
Gift cards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 25
Gift registries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 41
Gifts
for coffee connoisseurs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 58
for family chefs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 18
for food lovers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 34
for gadget geeks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 26
high-end . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 62
for home entertainment
enthusiasts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 52
for outdoor enthusiasts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 46
for social media users . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 38
for travelers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 42
Grills. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jun 17, 46
h–k
Headphones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jun 17, 18
Health insurance
high-deductible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan 17, 16
open enrollment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 16, 20
Hearing aids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mar 17, 15
Heart health. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 17, 24
Heart-surgery devices
infections from . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan 17, 41
Helmets
bicycle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 20
Home entertainment equipment
as gifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 16, 52
Home remodeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jul 17, 44
Homeowner tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mar 17, 22
Hospital infections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan 17, 32
Identity theft
medical . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 16, 42
Insect repellents
clothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 25
Insurance
car
price disparities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jul 17, 52
JULY 2017
savings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Mar 17, 42
health
high-deductible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..... Jan 17, 16
open enrollment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Nov 16, 20
Investment
for kids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Dec 16, 31
Kettles
electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..... Sep 16, 9
Kitchen equipment
as gifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Dec 16, 18
Kitchens
remodeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Aug 16, 40
l–p
Laundry machines
compact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...... Jan 17, 12
Lawn mowers
electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..... May 17, 9
Luggage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Dec 16, 12
Mattresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Feb 17, 16
Meal-kit delivery services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Oct 16, 32
Nut butters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Nov 16, 16
Off-label drugs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..... Feb 17, 12
Outdoor equipment
as gifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Dec 16, 46
Pain relief
back pain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Jun 17, 33
Paint
interior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... May 17, 38
Pasta
alternative ingredients . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... May 17, 14
Pillows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Feb 17, 16
Popcorn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..... Jun 17, 15
Prepaid cards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Sep 16, 18
Pressure cookers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...... Oct 16, 9
Printers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..... Mar 17, 9
Privacy, personal data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Nov 16, 24
protection tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Nov 16, 28
r–s
Ranges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 40; Nov 16, 54
Refrigerators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Aug 16, 40
Remodeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...... Jul 17, 44
kitchens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Aug 16, 40
Restaurants, casual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Nov 16, 38
Retirement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..... Jan 17, 22
Scams
medical identity theft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Oct 16, 42
Sleep aids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Feb 17, 16
Smartphones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Mar 17, 48
Snow blowers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..... Dec 16, 9
Solar power. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Aug 16, 10
Stores
return policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Dec 16, 30
Student debt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Aug 16, 28
key questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Aug 16, 34
Sunscreens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ........ Jul 17, 8
Supplements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Sep 16, 20
t
Talking about money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... May 17, 44
Television sets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 16, 34; Feb 17, 30
Tickets
pricing, scalpers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Aug 16, 16
Transportation
coming developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Oct 16, 50
history of
Consumer Reports advocacy . . . . . . . . .... Oct 16, 52
Travel
gifts suitable for . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Dec 16, 42
v–w
Vacuums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...... Jun 17, 9
Video
how to shoot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... May 17, 18
Virtual reality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... Oct 16, 10
Voice-activated devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... Sep 16, 10
Washing machines
compact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...... Jan 17, 12
Selling It
The Sales of Summertime
The living may be easy, but making sense of these ads is hard
Wizard of Odd
Gee, that
looks an awful
lot like a
hand to us.
Submitted by
Margaret Huddy
of Alexandria, Va.
Breakfast of
Champions
‘Cause it’s
5 o’clock
somewhere ...
Submitted by
Cherryl Walker
and Marty Hill of
Grants Pass, Ore.
Tea-Totaler
Kind of a
buzzkill if you
were counting
on a tall glass
of sweet stuff.
Submitted by
Barry Burns of
Tenaha, Texas
A ‘Reel’
Opportunity
Well, maybe
catfish are
especially good
at serving
up gizzards?
Submitted
via email
SHARE
Be on the lookout for goofs and glitches like these. Share them with us—by email at SellingIt@cro.consumer.org;
by mail to Selling It, Consumer Reports, 101 Truman Ave., Yonkers, NY 10703; or by social media using the hashtag
#CRSellingIt—and we might publish yours. Please include key information, such as the publication’s name and date.
JULY 2017
CR.ORG
67
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